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Momentum is crucial for United- Smalling

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Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says the players are determined to build momentum ahead of the Europa League final by finishing the Premier League season on a high.

Smalling

The Reds round off the domestic campaign with two games in five days – a trip to Southampton on Wednesday evening and an Old Trafford clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday – and Smalling is aware that berths in the squad to face Ajax in Stockholm are still up for grabs.

Speaking exclusively to ManUtd.com, the defender insists that while United can no longer finish in the top four, he and his team-mates remain motivated as the competition for places continues.

“I think momentum is crucial,” he said. “The beauty of having these two games, with the preparation we’ve got, means we can go into the final firing on all cylinders and with everyone completely up to speed. We’re ready for everything.

“I think everyone knows about the big carrot that comes with our final game, the Europa League final, but it’s all about that preparation now and making sure that in training and in each game, we’re as prepared as we can be.

“I don’t think it’s a case of taking it easy in the Premier League. You can’t shy away from the final but, in the same respect, in training and during games, we’ll want to make an impression on the manager. So, no-one can hold anything back, we want to make the most of every day.

“I think the manager stressed it, and the players know deep down that each game is having an influence on him. Be it on the training ground or in each game, certain situations, it’s all a test.”

Smalling said “it was a huge honour” to captain United to EFL Cup glory at Wembley in the last meeting with Southampton back in February. But while the centre-back has fond memories of lifting the silverware, he acknowledges the Saints gave the Reds a tough test on the pitch before the 3-2 win was sealed.

“Southampton have been a consistently good team over the last few years, home and away,” he added. “Despite their managerial changes or player changes, they’ve been able to stay solid.

“We know it’s not going to be easy. But we’re all aware that our away form has been generally very good and our record is right up there with the top teams.”

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