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25/03/2013 10:10

Papers: Smalling eyes chance

Mark Irwin writes in The Sun...

I'll fill Rio's boots
Chris Smalling insists he can fill the gap left by Rio Ferdinand for England. The defender has played second fiddle to Manchester United team-mate Ferdinand for most of his time at Old Trafford. But now the player once signed from non-League Maidstone by then Fulham boss Roy Hodgson believes he is ready to become a Three Lions regular. Smalling, 23, was a virtual spectator during Friday’s 8-0 stroll in San Marino. But he hopes to have done enough to keep his place in an injury-ravaged back four against Montenegro tomorrow night. And with John Terry retired from international football and Ferdinand unlikely to play for his country again, Smalling knows he has a real opportunity to impress. He said: “I’m definitely conscious of the chance in central defence. There is clearly an opening there and the more games I can get, the more the position can become my own. I think the players who have come in have given the manager something to think about. A lot of players have put their cases forward in San Marino for what we know will be the big one against Montenegro.”

Also in England-related news, Wayne Rooney is encouraged to shine in Montenegro by The Mirror's Oliver Holt. Rooney was sent off the last time England faced the Balkans side and Holt says "discipline, on and off the field, is his Achilles heel. If he can master that, he can be the man not only who makes the difference against Montenegro but who makes an impact at a major tournament for the first time in a decade."

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail claim United have "revived their search for a left-back" to, ultimately, take over from Patrice Evra. The paper claims "United scouts watched Porto left-back Alex Sandro in the recent Champions League tie against Malaga and plan to look at others in the position before the season ends".

More: Great captains – Nemanja Vidic | Cleverley – England's Reds core

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