Certain Manchester United stars won’t be happy with not playing Champions League football, but it appears at least one of them is using the European absence to fuel his motivation to succeed.
Smalling on Champions League
Defender Chris Smalling has revealed his misery at being out of the continent’s premier competition but also highlighted that it could be helpful for the club as it allows them to see the sort of standard of football they need to be playing.
United currently occupy fifth place in the Premier League but sit a mere two points off of third placed Southampton. A win for the Red Devils at the St. Mary’s Stadium tonight would see them leapfrog their opponents.
Smalling, who has had his fair share of critics since arriving at Old Trafford from Fulham in 2010, has looked assured in recent matches and will be looking to stake a claim for a permanent place in his side's back line.
Louis van Gaal has limited options at the moment but will soon be looking to add a leader to his roster. When the times comes Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones could be pitted against each other for a position in the starting XI.
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Meanwhile in transfer news things have taken a positive turn in the hunt for Victor Valdes. It’s now claimed that AS Monaco will pay a portion of his wages if he signs at Old Trafford due to a previous pre-contractual agreement.
That could be enough to convince the Red Devils to offer him a deal, with fears over his long-term injury status being steadily allayed as he continues to train with them. Van Gaal will know that first-choice David de Gea is in need of a competitive number two to keep him on his toes, and if Real Madrid's interest in him grows his future could become more uncertain.
- Angel Di Maria has a 50/50 chance of playing against Southampton tonight as he edges closer to a return from injury. The Argentina international sustained a slight hamstring tear against Hull City last month, but may be in line to feature for the Red Devils once more.