London - Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is among
the "top three centre-halves in the world", according to club captain
Smalling, who has risen from a bit-part player to a first
team regular under manager Louis van Gaal over the past 18 months, is enjoying
his finest ever run of form for his club and has featured in all of United's
games this season.
"He has been incredible and for me he is right up there
in world football in terms of centre-halves," Rooney told the club's
"He is in the top three centre-halves in the world -- I
think he is that good.
"He is a great player and he is developing to become
more of a leader of the back four. It is great to see for both United and
England, and hopefully that can continue for him and he can help us to be
Also read: Smalling extends Man United deal to 2019
The England captain's praise of Smalling comes in the wake
of Van Gaal saying the defender could one day captain United, and the
25-year-old has said the manager's influence has been key to his improved
"When you hear such good praise, especially from Wazza
(Rooney) and the manager, you just want to show them that it's not just words
that are meaningless," Smalling said, quoted by the Telegraph.
"I think he (Van Gaal) is a very experienced manager.
He says a lot of things that I try to take on board and I think he wants you to
"When he shows that trust, I just want to repay it and
do as well as I can. But yes, he has given me massive credit," he added.
Meanwhile, the club have announced that they will hold a
testimonial for Rooney to mark his 12 years at Old Trafford and the striker has
pledged to donate all the proceeds from the game to charity.
The match will be held at Old Trafford on Aug. 3, with the
opponents yet to be decided and the funds generated will be distributed to
several children's charities through the specifically created Wayne Rooney
"The match night will obviously be special for me and
my family but I hope that we can also deliver one or two surprises," Rooney
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