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Pearce impressed by Fulham defender Smalling on U21 debut

England U21 boss Stuart Pearce was delighted with the debut of Fulham defender Chris Smalling in their victory over Portugal.

Smalling was handed his first start for the Under-21s alongside Manchester City's Micah Richards, who captained the team.

Pearce was impressed by the performance of the 19-year-old, who not so long ago was playing for Maidstone, and made his debut for the Cottagers in their Europa League clash against CSKA Sofia during September.

"The pair of them are quick and aggressive in their defending, and they will improve," said Pearce, the former Manchester City manager.

"Micah I obviously know inside out, but I hear great things about Chris Smalling. He has impressed me everyday in training and have been saying for the last two or three matches that I have to get him a game. Maybe he was fortunate that James Tomkins was out injured, but he certainly took his chance."

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