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European Qualifiers Group E

Smalling gets Hodgson backing

England manager Roy Hodgson is delighted to have so many good players on the way back from injury and says Chris Smalling can become a top-class centre-half.

Last Updated: 16/11/12 at 09:20 Post Comment

Chris Smalling: Praised by England manager Roy Hodgson

Chris Smalling: Praised by England manager Roy Hodgson

Hodgson has been encouraged by what he has learnt since taking charge of England earlier in the year and insists there are good times ahead despite Wednesday's 4-2 defeat in Sweden.

There have been a number of players unavailable due to injury and the manager is particularly looking forward to working with Smalling, who has recently returned from a metatarsal problem.

Hodgson signed Smalling in 2008 when he was Fulham boss before selling him on to Manchester United a couple of years later.

"I'm in a much better position when it comes to assessing players and knowing what I can get out of an England team than I was when I came into the job and straight off to the Euros,' Hodgson, who has called up 48 different players since taking the helm, said in the Daily Mail.

"That was quite a conservative group we took there (Sweden). If anything, we have become a lot less conservative and I think the players have responded very positively.

"There's a lot of top-class talent coming back. There's a boy at Manchester United called Smalling, who I've always thought is going to be a top-class centre-half."

Hodgson is pleased that England do not seem so dependent on their star men and he hopes everyone in the squad will continue to contribute.

He explained: "In the past we seem to have been reliant on a group of players who had to play at all times and there's not been a lot of support. Now there's more competition and more help for the Gerrards and Rooneys."

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