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Young Fulham defender Chris Smalling won his first cap for the England Under-20s as the Young Lions got their preparations for the World Cup off to a great start with a 2-0 win over Italy at Loftus Road tonight.

Smalling, who was called up to the Under-20 squad for the first team despite not having made a first-team appearance for Fulham, played the whole of the second half in west London coming on for West Ham centre back James Tomkins at half-time. It continues his impressive development since joining the club from non-league Maidstone United in the summer, which has seen him named on the bench at Old Trafford for the senior team earlier this season.

England were comfortable winners, although their Italian opponents started brightly and dominated possession in the early stages. The Young Lions went ahead when a corner from Marc Albrighton was headed in off the bar by Ciaran Clark. England doubled their lead just ten minutes later. Kieran Gibbs sent over a dangerous cross from the lead which Freddie Sears left for Daniel Sturridge and, after taking a touch, the Manchester City striker curled a brilliant left-footed finish high into the top corner.

England travel to Egypt in September for the U20 World Cup after qualifying courtesy of an impressive display at last year’s U19 European Championships in the Czech Republic.

ENGLAND U20s: Button (Amos 45); Vidal,  Bertrand (Mee 76),  Tomkins (Smalling 45) Clark; Walker (Clayton 67), Albrighton (Colback 79), Gibbs, Sinclair (Stanislas 65); Sturridge (Obadeyi 82), Sears.