England manager Roy Hodgson has cited the development of Manchester United defenders Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw as a major satisfaction of his side’s successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Smalling initially struggled to impose himself at United, but has now established himself as a first-choice centre-back, while Shaw is flourishing after an injury-scarred first season at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney stole the headlines in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Switzerland by scoring his 50th England goal, but Smalling was named man of the match and Shaw impressed with some buccaneering forays from left-back.

Hodgson joked that he had signed Smalling for “a bag of balls” during his time as Fulham manager, but added: “I’m delighted for him because he’s a player who has really had to fight to get to the position that he’s achieved at Manchester United today.


“I also congratulate the people who chose the man of the match. It would have been so easy to give the award to Wayne for his 50th goal or to Harry Kane coming on (and scoring), Luke Shaw for bombing up the left wing.

“We can thank Chris Smalling and his partner Gary Cahill and we owe them a debt that we won 2-0 because sometimes what was going on in front of them wasn’t what we really wanted to see.”

“If he keeps going then he’s on track to be another Ashley Cole, a 100-cap man” – Hodgson on Shaw

Shaw, 20, had his fitness publicly questioned by United manager Louis van Gaal after signing from Southampton in a A?30 million ($46.1 million, 41.3 million euros) deal last year and made only 16 Premier League appearances last season.

But having taken one of United’s fitness coaches with him on holiday this year, he has made an encouraging start to the new season.

With Everton’s Leighton Baines currently injured, there is an opening at left-back in the England team and Hodgson believes Shaw has the ability to make the position his own.

“That tough season, and it must have been tough for him and his family, might benefit him because he’s still only 20,” Hodgson told a group of reporters at Wembley.

“He must have played 10 games for England already (actually six) and if he keeps going then he’s on track to be another Ashley Cole, a 100-cap man.

“I would advise him to study Ashley Cole, look at what Ashley did for England and set my sights on the same thing.”