Man Utd have a ‘quite incredible’ star of their squad – Phil Thompson

CHRIS SMALLING has been “quite incredible” for Manchester United, according to Liverpool legend Phil Thompson.

Smalling has fought his way back into contention under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after previously being in and out of the Manchester United side this season.

Despite playing for one of the biggest clubs in the country, he has been axed from the England squad because Gareth Southgate favours ball-playing defenders.

But Smalling continued his recent fine form with a superb display in Wednesday’s Champions League trump against PSG.

And Thompson believes the 29-year-old can be a leader for United in a similar mould to legendary defender Steve Bruce.

“Smalling has been quite incredible,” Thompson said on Sky Sports.

“This side on the night you knew were going to require leaders, good defenders, legs in the side, where you’re going to have to run, you’re going to have to chase, you’re going to have to keep people together and not get too stretched.

“One thing that Chris Smalling’s probably learnt over time from watching the likes of Gary Neville, always tucking in, always making sure the four defenders stay in there.

“Let the midfield players work hard to get wide, to stop crosses getting in, rather than the full-backs going out and it’s then stretched.

“Chris Smalling was that sort of guy and he has been, he’s much better.

“I can see where Gareth Southgate [is coming from] because he lacks that little bit of ability like Harry Maguire on the ball and passing.

“But nothing can make up for desire to defend, putting your foot in, putting your head in when it counts in that penalty box.

“That’s where he comes alive and that’s where he becomes a leader.

“Steve Bruce was very much like that, he was a fantastic defender.

“And that’s where I see Chris Smalling as being that leader.

“The other players are responding because he’s been there that long, more than the others.

“They do look up to him and he has been fantastic.”

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