Chris Smalling says he was pleasantly surprised by his shock call-up to the England Under-21 squad.

The promising Fulham centre back was named in Stuart Pearce’s squad to play Holland in Groningen tonight along with five other uncapped players. Despite an impressive first season with Fulham, which saw him make his debut against Everton on the last day of the season and play a key role as the England Under-19 side made it all the way to the finals of the recent European Championships, the news still came as something of a surprise to Smalling, who was picked up from non-league Maidstone United.

It’s great news. I really didn’t expect to be called up for the under-21s and I can’t wait to join up with the rest of the squad. It is incredible really, my career has gone so fast and now I am only one step away from the England senior squad. Now I have been called up it is a challenge because I will have to perform well at Fulham this season to keep my England place.

Smalling, who featured during Fulham’s three-match pre-season tour of Australia this summer, is hoping for a successful second season at the club.

Pre- season has gone really well and I have managed to get a few games under my belt, which should help me try and play more Premier League games this season.