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Manchester United's Chris Smalling warns competition centre-back 'shirt is mine'

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Smalling is determined to fight for his Manchester United future even if Jose Mourinho buys another centre-back in the summer window.

Sources have told ESPN FC that one of of the two signings Mourinho wants before the deadline is a central defender with Toby Alderweireld, Harry Maguire and Jerome Boateng among his preferred options. If he is successful it would leave the United manager with six centre-backs.

Smalling and Eric Bailly are with the squad in the United States while Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo are on holiday following the World Cup.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Rojo, in particular, is in the dark about his future and will seek talks with Mourinho before the start of the season.

The Argentinian signed a new deal in March but was restricted to just 12 appearances in all competitions last season and was left out of the squad for the FA Cup defeat to Chelsea.

Smalling, however, is in pole position to start the campaign alongside Bailly and the 28-year-old has told Maguire, Alderweireld and the rest "the shirt is mine."


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"To be fair I think I'm used to that every year," he said. "This club is always linked to centre-backs, whether it's the club or agents or whoever, because the best come here.

"But no, I'm happy and when I'm fit I play, so I just want to carry on from last season and right now the shirt's mine and I intend to keep it."

Despite playing 46 games for United last season, Smalling was left out of England's World Cup squad by coach Gareth Southgate.

He made the most of his break with trips to Thailand and Vietnam and he is hoping to use his World Cup disappointment to his advantage.

"I think initially it's obviously disappointment because you want to be a part of big tournaments," he added.

"I had to come to terms with that and I made the most of the biggest summer I've had in my career and I'm feeling fresh and ready to go now.

"I think I just think I want to follow on from the number of games I played last season, keep kicking on and helping the team, just making us play better together as a team and hopefully win some trophies, that's my main aim.

"I'm feeling good and I Can hopefully get a full preseason, which I've not had in many years."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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