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Gillingham 15:00 Barnsley

Hess rues Smalling oversight

Last Updated: 09/09/11 4:52pm

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Smalling: Slipped through the net

Smalling: Slipped through the net

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Gillingham manager Andy Hessenthaler has been left to rue missing out on signing defender Chris Smalling.

Smalling played for Kent non-league side Maidstone United until 2008, before being scouted by Fulham and eventually being signed by Manchester United.

The defender made his England debut this week and Hessenthaler has watched his rapid rise with mixed emotions, knowing they let the 21-year-old slip through their fingers.

"We're delighted for him being a Kent boy," Hessenthaler told the BBC. "There's some good players in Kent and it'll be an inspiration to players for what Smalling's done, so fair play to him.

"He's been fantastic. He's one that slipped through the net which hurts very much.

"I don't think he was ever spotted at the time and it's a shame."

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