Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United's Jonny Evans makes move easy for Chris Smalling

New recruit Chris Smalling has thanked fellow central defenders Wes Brown and Jonny Evans for helping him settle into life at Manchester United.

Smalling is looking for his second run-out for the club against Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field this evening after the former Fulham player partnered Northern Ireland star Evans at the back in the 3-1 victory over Celtic on Friday in Toronto.

Smalling, 20, is still coming to terms with his rapid rise up the ladder — 18 months ago he was playing for non-league Maidstone.

With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both absent, he has the chance to make an early impression on Ferguson and the coaching staff.

Smalling said: “The tour has been a really enjoyable experience so far. I have spent quite a bit of time with Wes and Jonny, my fellow centre-backs.

“And I have also been chatting to a lot of the younger lads. It is just great to get to know everybody and be part of such a great club. I just want to do my best.”

Meanwhile, John O'Shea is hoping to steer clear of an injury nightmare next season as United attempt to regain their Premier League title from Chelsea.

O'Shea reflected on a dark December which saw the club lose two of their six league games that month. United went down 1-0 at home to Aston Villa and then suffered a humbling 3-0 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Those setbacks came during a spell which saw manager Sir Alex Ferguson suffer major disruption as he was without seven defenders through injury.

O'Shea said: “Injuries were a key factor last season and we hope to avoid them this time around. I can never remember so many defenders being injured.

“We still got so close to retaining the title — only a few lapses of concentration let us down in the end. Now we are all hungry to succeed again.”

Ferguson could be tempted to give Nani a run-out after the Portugal winger's recovery from a dislocated collar-bone.

Nani said: “For me it is a great opportunity to have a very good pre-season. That is the most important thing.”

Union have secured back-to- back-victories against Toronto and Neil Lennon's Celtic after a difficult start in this their first season in MLS.

Ferguson said: “While we concern ourselves about our fitness we do our homework as best we can. Union are a competent team with a lot of energy in midfield thanks to their young players. They also show freedom of movement up front.”

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