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Funnily enough, Rich and I were talking about Chris Smalling just last night. We wondered aloud whether – given the strength of the Hughes-Hangeland partnership – the youngster would ever get enough first team chances to aid his development. He probably will as Hughes can’t carry on for ever but, for now, the England under-21 international is happy to learn from a pair of great role models.

With every game I play my confidence is getting higher and higher and I do feel very settled when I walk out on to that pitch now.

I think whenever I have been given the chance I’ve justified the decision with my performance. It’s fantastic to play alongside both Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland. They are very experienced and form one of the league’s best central defensive partnerships.

It gives me great confidence coming in next to those two and I think I have shown that I can do a job when one of them is missing.