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Man Utd 17:30 Liverpool

Smalling following Rio model

Centre-back also thinks U21s have perfect base for Euro assault

Last Updated: 11/10/10 8:25am

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Smalling: Impressed by Ferdinand

Smalling: Impressed by Ferdinand

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Chris Smalling thinks that Rio Ferdinand is the perfect role model to help his development at Manchester United.

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The former Fulham defender moved to Old Trafford in the summer in a £10million deal which marked a remarkable rise from non-league Maidstone.

England Under 21 international Smalling has since played in the UEFA Champions League match against Rangers and the Carling Cup clash with Scunthorpe alongside Ferdinand.

And the 20-year-old thinks that the Three Lions senior-team captain is an ideal mentor as he continues to build his experience.

"The stature of the guy is something to look up to and he has been a real joy to be alongside," Smalling said of Ferdinand.

Commanding

"Rio has built up that presence over the years. He is just very commanding. On the ball, he just gives you that composure.

"Whether he puts on that captain's armband or it is just in training, he is leading the team.

"I have had to pick up along the same way, because I am the eyes of the central midfielders and that is something I have been working on, and he has been helping me.

"Rio is great to play with, so is [Nemanja] Vidic, so I cannot be in a better atmosphere to be learning my trade."

Meanwhile, Smalling believes the U21s have given themselves a solid base from which they can progress to next summer's European Championship by overcoming Romania at the Municipal Stadium in Botosani on Tuesday.

Fortunate

The centre-back scored his first goal for the Young Lions, which secured a slender 2-1 lead to defend from the first leg at a capacity Carrow Road on Friday night.

Smalling said: "We are only halfway through what is hopefully going to be that road to Denmark. They haven't conceded many goals lately, but we haven't either.

"I have played alongside Micah (Richards) for a few of the games and Jonah (Phil Jones) has come in and done really well.

"That was the first time we have conceded a goal since we have been playing together, and it was a bit fortunate too.

"But hopefully we can get that solid base going again and keep a clean sheet in Romania."

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