Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has spoken of his gratitude for the chance former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson gave him.
Smalling’s comments come ahead of the Old Trafford side’s trip to Craven Cottage this evening.
The England international admitted his time at Fulham was key to becoming the player that Sir Alex Ferguson saw fit to bring to Manchester United.
“I see my time there as a big two years,” Smalling told the club’s official website.
“My first year was about finding my feet and the second was about showcasing what I can do.
“Without Roy Hodgson giving me my chance there I wouldn’t be here so it’s a time I look upon fondly.
“It’ll be nice to go back and see a few of the players and play back at the Cottage.”
Smalling was expected to make small steps in his progression into a first choice defender at Old Trafford after making the move in January last year.
However, this was not the case as the 22-year-old slotted straight into Ferguson’s side and made 33 appearances in all competitions last season.
Smalling will be called upon to continue his job of covering the right-back slot during the busy Christmas period.
Despite having to play a number of games in a short space of time, Smalling is looking forward to being involved and is hoping his team can maintain their title challenge.
“The players always look forward to this time of year with plenty of games," he added.
“We’re used to the demands and it’s a big opportunity to pick up a lot of points - we want to get maximum points.
“Christmas can be a hindrance on some and can sometimes make or break you in terms of kicking on, but this is a period where we really need to kick on.”