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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Jun 25, 2014

Chris Smalling targets starting role

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti and Craig Burley take a look whether or not Roy Hodgson should start the younger players in their match against Costa Rica, and Steven Gerrard's potential retirement from international football.

Defender Chris Smalling has said he wants to secure a regular centre-back place for both England and Manchester United after making his World Cup debut in the 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.

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Smalling started in a much-changed lineup for the final England game of a tournament that saw Roy Hodgson's side eliminated with a group game still to play.

The 24-year-old, who joined United from Fulham soon after having made the step up from non-league football, said: "Next season I will look to really kick on and cement my position.

"Roy knows that I am a centre-back, and I really want to cement it and be that No. 1. I feel that, if I get my chance, I can go out there and deliver.

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"Hopefully if I can go back to my club in the summer and cement it, I can cement it for England as well. I am ready for this chance, and it is about time I took it."

Smalling praised the England fans who, despite their team's elimination, turned out in numbers in Belo Horizonte.

They had little to get excited about in a drab match of few chances, but still gave the players an ovation at the end of the 90 minutes.

"It was a really touching moment that they were right behind us at the end," Smalling said.

"You could accept it if they turned on us, but they didn't -- they have been terrific all the way through, and it will drive us on for next time to make sure we deliver."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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