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Smalling calms knee injury fears

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Jun 2016

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Chris Smalling has dismissed fears over his fitness ahead of England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia on Saturday.

The Manchester United defender is one of only three specialist centre-backs in Roy Hodgson’s squad, prompting concern at the sight of the 26-year-old icing his knee at the national team’s training camp in Chantilly.

But the former Fulham player was quick to offer reassurance over his readiness for the Group B clash in Marseille this weekend.

“There’s no injury scare there, it’s normal,” he told a media conference.

“I often ice different parts of my body or jump in an ice bath, so [it was] just [a] normal recovery process to be ready for the next day.”

Smalling also played down worries over a lack of depth at the back, where Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and John Stones of Everton are the only other nominal centre-backs. 

Tottenham’s Eric Dier, set to start the tournament in holding midfield, can fill in further back if required and Smalling is adamant there is plenty of cover.

“We’ve got a couple of other people who can play at centre-back as well, I don’t think it’s a position that’s necessarily a worry,” he said.

“We’re very well covered in all positions.” 

According to Smalling, England, who exited the 2014 World Cup in the group stage after defeats to Italy and Uruguay, are taking a positive approach but have not set a benchmark for what they hope to achieve in France.

“We’re a confident bunch,” he said.

“We’re obviously a very young squad. I think it’s a case where we don’t necessarily set targets. Let’s go out there and take on the games as they are. I think there’s a fearless factor. Who knows where we can go?”

Pressed on whether or not the Three Lions can finally shine on the big stage, he added: “I hope so. We’re all of the mind-set that this is our chance and we want to seize that.” 

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