Chris Smalling delighted with 'dream start' to season

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Chris Smalling
Smalling has impressed since joining Manchester United from Fulham

Chris Smalling says he is living the dream after making his England debut in Bulgaria and helping Manchester United to the top of the Premier League.

Smalling, 21, made an assured England debut at right-back in Friday's 3-0 Euro 2012 qualifier win in Sofia.

He told BBC Sport: "My first month or so couldn't have gone any better, so hopefully the season can carry on like this.

"I'm really enjoying my football. It's gone like a dream."

Even though Smalling insists he sees his long-term future in central defence, he says he is happy to play an unfamiliar role if required by England boss Fabio Capello and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in an attempt to cement his place for club and country.

He added: "I didn't see myself playing regularly at right-back for Manchester United or making my England debut in that position.

"Hopefully I can do the job for the minute but I feel my future definitely lies at centre-half. I feel Fabio Capello and Sir Alex Ferguson are great people to be backed by so hopefully I can carry on doing that job and they will have faith in me.

"Fabio Capello has probably seen me play more games at centre-half but for him to have the faith in me to play in a different position is great for my confidence and I hope I did him justice.

"He seemed to just say to everybody that he was very satisfied in terms of how we played. He didn't want us to drop off at half-time and they made it a lot more difficult in the second half but we were happy to walk off with that clean sheet."

Smalling watched in admiration as another outstanding individual performance by United team-mate Wayne Rooney was the catalyst for England's win in the Vasil Levski Stadium, which ensured Fabio Capello's side took a major step towards reaching the finals in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

He said: "It is great for me to play with such a special player and special talent for club and country. You can see it only takes a moment of brilliance for him to have an impact on the game and it is making our job at the back a lot easier when he's scoring a lot of goals."

And England go into Tuesday's game against Wales at Wembley not only lifted by their own victory, but also by Gary Speed's side's 2-1 win against closest rivals Montenegro in Cardiff.

Smalling said: "We've been given a massive opportunity by Wales beating Montenegro. It was something we didn't expect and when we came into the dressing room and heard the result it's really given us an edge. With 80,000 behind us at Wembley, hopefully we can really kick over the finishing line."

And Smalling is hoping he did enough in Sofia for Capello to hand him his second cap in front of a home crowd, saying: "It would be another massive occasion for me to play on Tuesday night to play for the senior team at Wembley and hopefully Fabio Capello sticks with me."