Select Page

Stockdale on bench for England

David Stockdale is on the bench for England’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Bulgaria tonight.

The Fulham goalkeeper, currently on loan at Ipswich, has established himself as Fabio Capello’s number two keeper behind Joe Hart after Robert Green withdrew from the squad earlier this week through injury.

Former Fulham defender Chris Smalling makes his England debut at right back and Gary Cahill replaces the injured Rio Ferdinand in central defence. Frank Lampard has been dropped and Ashley Young looks set to partner Wayne Rooney up front.

ENGLAND: Hart; Smalling, A. Cole, Terry, Cahill; Parker, Barry, Walcott, Downing; A. Young, Rooney. Subs: Stockdale, Jagielka, Baines, Milner, Lampard, Johnson, Defoe.

As role models go…

As has probably been mentioned in other reports on here over the last 48 hours or so (I can’t tell – I’m operating without glasses at the moment. Something very exciting could happen right in front of me and I wouldn’t have a clue!) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was at the Cottage on Saturday afternoon to see Fulham come alive in the second half and see of the Germans.

Now, the papers have assumed that the Knight of the Realm was there for a cheeky look at Ozil before putting in an offer for him. This would make sense as, it would seem everybody except SAF has noticed they could be a little short in the middle this year. Or perhaps he was there just for a bit of scouting while he was in town, which again makes sense.

Or my theory is that after three weeks of pre season he’s realised he’s dropped a clanger and popped round to see if Al Fayed has cashed that cheque we got in exchange for Smalling a few months back.

Talking of the mediocre defender he’s been making all the right noises you’d expect a new, young signing to be making after joining Man United. He appears to have found a father figure in Rio too.

“I like to bring in the sort of attributes he’s got. Every young defender should look at him and learn”

“But Rio’s are big boots to fill”

Would those be the boots in which he filmed a sex tape with Dyer and Fat Frank, carried out a bit of drink driving, ‘forgot’ to turn up to fairly important drug tests,  received a further three driving bans for dangerous driving and made homophobic comments on national radio? Look and learn young Chris, look and learn…

Roy: Smalling will make the step-up

This annoys me. We’re effectively smoothing out the rough edges of Chris Smalling’s play for Manchester United’s benefit.

Good luck to the lad but isn’t it a little like learning to drive by crashing your mate’s car?

Had he not been signed by United then the criticism would be quite different. But now all eyes are on him.

He’ll cope with the pressure of playing at Old Trafford. I’m doing Alex a favour, letting him get his mistakes out of the way at Fulham.

Hopefully, Fergie will remember the ‘favour’ next time he wants to send one of his young fledglings out on loan.

Smalling’s just getting started

A great profile of Chris Smalling – still at Fulham, but of course soon to be of Manchester United – by the always readable Amy Lawrence. Here are a few excerpts.

On studying and university before Fulham came calling:

I would have gone to Loughborough to study business management and was looking forward to that very much.

The experiences of his Maidstone team-mates has made Smalling appreciate the need to grab his chance:

My team-mates had different jobs. A few worked in the city, some did building and carpentry, a lot of them had played in the league at a higher level but dropped down for whatever reason, whether they were coming to the end of their career or had an injury and struggled to get back. That makes you value the opportunity you have.

Why Fulham just felt right:

After playing a reserve game Roy Hodgson took me into his office and complimented me on my game. We had a general chat, he was telling me about when he played for Maidstone back in the day, so it all felt very nice to be at the club. They gave me a chance, they saw some raw ability and it has been a joy working here every day.

The chance of getting to Wembley, and playing against the likes of Juventus, shows how far we have come as a group.

It’s all tinged with a bad of sadness that we won’t see Smalling develop ourselves but let’s hope he goes out in style.

Smalling speaks

Chris Smalling has been speaking ahead of the England under-21’s qualifier against Greece at the Keepmoat tomorrow night. The Fulham defender will hoping to see some action having been included in Stuart Pearce’s squad for the game.

When we went over there, we had a very good game – we drew the game. But I think coming to our home ground, hopefully we can assert the early pressure and hopefully we’ll get that win to clear us at the top of the group.

Hopefully this game will put us on the road to that major tournament and we’re all looking forward to that next summer.

On Manchester United and the rest of his season, Smalling said:

It’s a great opportunity for me and I can’t wait to join up with them in the summer. But at the minute, I’m very much looking forward to the game on Wednesday and being a Fulham player from now until the end of the season.