Belfast Telegraph

Evra: Smalling blow good for France

Patrice Evra has quickly found the silver lining to the dark cloud of Chris Smalling's groin injury - it is good news for France.

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Smalling is out of this summer's European Championships after he aggravated the injury during Sunday's Premier League win over Swansea. The former Fulham man is paying the price for not coming off as soon as the injury occurred, with Ferguson admitting "it is a bad one".

Full-back Evra accepts it is a setback for United, who head to Sunderland on Sunday still harbouring hopes of retaining their Premier League title. But France, who tackle England in their Group D opener at Euro 2012 in Donetsk on June 11, can rejoice at some good news. He said: "You always have to find the silver lining."

He added: "It's a huge blow for United. Chris is one of the strongest defenders in our squad. I'm really sad for him but, to be fair, I'm happy he won't play against me and France in the Euros.

"I have to be honest. When he told me he was injured and would miss the game against Sunderland I said: 'No, Chris, we need you'. And then he told me he'd also miss the Euros and I just said, 'Thanks! Well done'."

Ferguson was intending to bring Smalling off during the Swansea game, only for Rio Ferdinand to suffer a similar problem immediately afterwards. That Ferdinand is fit for Sunday's trip to the Stadium of Light, where he is likely to be partnered by Jonny Evans, just makes Smalling even more unfortunate.

"We tried to take him off but then Rio got a knock and Chris thought he could stay on," said Ferguson. "Now he is going to miss the European Championships with a torn groin muscle. We are assessing what to do with it at the moment but it is a bad injury."

Smalling was by no means certain to make Roy Hodgson's squad when it is unveiled on Wednesday. The 22-year-old earned the last of his three caps against Holland in February.

However, it was during that game that he suffered a nasty gash following a clash of heads with Klaas Jan Huntelaar, since when a series of minor problems have limited him to just six United appearances.

And Smalling was also held responsible for Vincent Kompany's crucial winner in last month's Manchester derby that looks set to send the Premier League title to the Etihad Stadium.

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