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Manchester United signing Smalling can play big role: Ferguson

Manchester United have completed the signing of Fulham defender Chris Smalling.

The 20-year-old completed his medical with the Old Trafford outfit yesterday and will link up with the Red Devils from July 2010 on a four-year contract.

It completes a meteoric rise for the England Under-21 star, who only two years ago was playing non-league football with Maidstone.

It is likely to represent United's only significant business of the transfer window.

But after beating off competition for a player who has still made fewer than a dozen appearances for the Cottagers, Sir Alex Ferguson feels it represents a smart bit of business.

“Chris is an extremely talented young defender, who we have been monitoring for some months,” said Ferguson.

“He is very quick and reads the game well. He will be a great asset to the club, playing alongside some of the best defenders around and we are delighted to have secured his signature.”

The way the deal has been done will only fuel the belief that Nemanja Vidic will be leaving in the summer.

Ferguson is almost certain to refute such claims, although, with Johnny Evans already established as back-up to Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, something will have to give if Smalling is to make any meaningful contribution during his debut season.

That will not worry the Greenwich-born player though, who is eagerly looking forward to the challenge.

“Joining Manchester United is an unbelievable opportunity for me,” he said.

“My time at Fulham has been great and I have learned a lot about the game from Roy Hodgson and the coaching staff. But the chance of coming to the biggest club in the world is something I just couldn't turn down.

“I am excited about working with Sir Alex and the fantastic players in his squad.”

Meanwhile, Michael Carrick has hailed the awesome impact of Manchester United's Carling Cup matchwinner Wayne Rooney.

Left to fend for himself as a lone front-man in the highly-charged clash with Manchester City at Old Trafford, there was never any possibility Rooney could repeat his sensational four-goal burst against Hull at the weekend. Instead, United's talisman settled for heading home the stoppage time effort that took his side to Wembley at the expense of their neighbours.

As someone who knew Rooney as a team-mate with England long before he made the move north from Tottenham in 2006, Carrick has been aware of the striker's qualities for quite some time.

But even he has been staggered at the ease with which Rooney has settled into the void left by the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid.

“Wayne is awesome,” said Carrick. “He just keeps improving. When I first came to the club I thought he was a great player. Three years on he is even better.

“He just improves each season. You have to give him a lot of credit because this season especially he has taken on a lot more responsibility. He is getting goals and creating them for others. He is doing everything you could possibly ask. Let's hope it continues until May.”

Fabio Capello will cross his fingers that run extends well beyond the end of the club campaign, despite the arduous nature of the domestic campaign.

Belfast Telegraph