Chris Smalling is ready for the big Russian.
Chris Smalling is ready for the big Russian. Frank Augstein

Smalling all set for the Russian giant

Chris Smalling has revealed that England is attempting to devise a special plan to nullify the threat of Russia’s towering forward Artem Dzyuba in Sunday morning’s (AEST) Euro 2016 Group B opener in Marseille.

The Manchester United centre-half is set to partner Chelsea’s Gary Cahill in the heart of Roy Hodgson’s defence after training as expected on Wednesday following a scare 24 hours earlier with his left knee.

At 196cm, the Zenit St Petersburg forward has been pinpointed as the biggest weapon in Russia’s armoury.

With England aiming to secure an opening game victory ahead of next Thursday’s encounter with Wales in Lens, however, Smalling (pictured) admits that shackling Dzyuba has been a focal point of the team’s tactical meetings.

“We have been watching videos this week,” Smalling said.

Host nation France kicks off Euro 2016 tomorrow morning (5am AEST) against Romania.

In the same group, Albania will take on Switzerland tomorrow night in Lens, while in England’s group, Wales will play its first major tournament game since 1958 against Slovakia in the early hours of Sunday morning.

France, Germany and Italy are among the favourites to win the tournament which will showcase some of the finest talents in world football, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba.


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