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Wenger faces defensive dilemma

Arsenal
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Chris Smalling hoping for United run

Chris Smalling hopes his performance in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk has convinced manager David Moyes that he can be the answer to his problems in the centre of defence.

Payne: United get it right

Moyes sprung a surprise by picking Smalling, 23, alongside Nemanja Vidic for the Champions League group game in Ukraine, with the England international emerging from the match in the Donbass Arena with his reputation enhanced.

And with the United boss having accepted that the ageing and out-of-form Rio Ferdinand cannot play every game, while having rested Vidic for last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, Smalling is eager for more opportunities in the future.

"It was a confidence boost for me to get picked," he told PA Sport. "I want to be involved as much as I can now. Hopefully, I can show the manager I can do a job and he can count on me. He wants players out there he can trust."

Smalling struggled at right-back in the 4-1 derby defeat to Manchester City but, playing in his preferred position of centre-back, he fared better in the 1-0 Capital One Cup win against Liverpool.

Although United have lost three of their first six Premier League games, the former Fulham man believes their determined display against Shakhtar was proof of their mettle.

"It shows we can really stick together. We know a few results have not gone our way," he said. "But when there are a few doubts, we need to show we have a bit of character and fight. Once the disappointment of that equaliser subsides and we get back home, we will see it is a well-earned point that will allow us to move on."

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