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Fulham defender Smalling wins big praise after Cup win

Fulham defender Chris Smalling was outstanding in their FA Cup win over Swindon.

An injury to Brede Hangeland gave the 20-year-old a chance to impress Hodgson five days after his first Barclays Premier League start against Chelsea.

That match ended in disaster for the defender when the ball accidentally ricocheted off his knee into his own net to hand the Blues a 2-1 win over their West London rivals.

Smalling performed admirably today as he came out on top in a bruising clash with Swindon target man Billy Paynter.

"Chris Smalling did well for us again," said Hodgson.

"The game suited him because they passed the ball well enough but it was only a matter of time before they hit the ball long to Paynter. Then get the ball off the knockdown so it was coming in the air, so it is the type of game that we expect him to do well at.

"He and Aaron Hughes were pretty much fault-free throughout the match apart from on two occasions, once when he defended the wrong side and gave away a free-kick and the other when he over elaborated and lost possession but I suppose I'm being pretty harsh if I'd expect him to play a fault-free game."

Smalling has enjoyed a dramatic rise since signing from non-league Maidstone in 2008.

The London-born defender has gone on to represent England at under-20 and under-21 level since arriving at Craven Cottage and has impressed for the Cottagers in their Europa League campaign this term.

Swindon boss Danny Wilson praised the way the Londoner kept Paynter at bay.

"He was excellent last week at Chelsea last week and he was fantastic today so they have a good player on their books here at Fulham," Wilson said.

"It was a big decision to bring him here from non-league football and I think Roy (Hodgson) has got it spot on."

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