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Smalling tempers international ambition

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is keen to play at both Euro 2012 and the London Olympics next year, but insists he is only focused on performing for his club at present.

Smalling, 21, made his England debut in September's Euro 2012 qualifier in Bulgaria, and also played in the Three Lions' victory over Wales before injury ruled him out of the final qualifier against Montenegro.

The former Fulham centre-back looks likely to be selected in Fabio Capello's squad for next year's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, and being under the age of 23 is also a strong candidate for Great Britain's team for the Olympic games.

But while Smalling has his eye on a packed summer of international football in 2012, he plans to concentrate solely on United until the end of the season.

"I have to say that England is not my first target at the moment and neither are the Olympics," Smalling told the Manchester Evening News. "United is what I am thinking about. But towards the end of the season I will be looking towards that and hopefully I might get into the England squad.

"Obviously I'd love to go there [Euro 2012]. There is also the Olympics as well. A lot of the lads who went to the Under-21 Championships last summer will be able to play in it. Whether it is the Euros, the Olympics, or both - you would like to be involved because these opportunities do not come around too often."

Smalling is relishing life at Old Trafford and insists that he has never taken his career as a professional footballer for granted, having enjoyed a rapid ascent from non-league football with Maidenhead to the Premier League with United.

"Everybody's career is not plain sailing," he said. "I have been very much enjoying how it has gone over the last couple of years and hopefully it will stay on course. But I will be ready if there is a setback and I will work hard.

"When I was younger I stopped playing for a professional club after being at Millwall's academy. I was at school and I thought the chance in the pro game might not come again.

"But I was always going to give it a go and keep at it and worked hard. I never gave up and the reminder of that will always help me in the future.

"That will be the same response if I get a setback in the professional game. I learned from that. You cannot take anything for granted."


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