Chris Smalling says he is ‘spurred on’ by constant speculation linking Manchester United with a central defender.
Louis van Gaal’s side have been linked with moves for Mats Hummels and Ezequiel Garay since time began, while John Stones, Raphael Varane and Marquinhos are also constantly linked.
United have sought central defensive replacements for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic since their departures in 2014, but Smalling has emerged over the past year.
The 26-year-old has started 28 games for the club in all competitions this season, more than any other player, and has been the constant fixture in a defence where midfielder Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Paddy McNair have been his partners.
Discussing speculation over United signing another defender, Smalling told MUTV: “It does spur you on. When you come to Manchester United, in every transfer window – whether the team is doing well or badly – there are always players linked with the club because this club is always linked with the best players.
“It keeps you on your toes and spurs you on. You can’t rest on six months of good performances because as soon as you have a blip, there is always another player to take your place.
“I have been happy with the past year, I have stayed relatively injury-free and have been able to play games, build up and keep learning. I take a lot of positives from that,” he added.
“Towards the end of last season and in the summer, somebody needed to step up and make sure they were consistent. In the last couple of years we have had a lot of injuries in the centre-back positions, so in these last 12 months I have been happy and injury-free with the manager’s faith.
“I don’t make too many resolutions but if I can stay injury-free again then I would wish for that, and also to contribute to success with United and England.”