Chris Smalling
Smalling has his eye on a first team role this season. (Reuters)

Chris Smalling has told David Moyes he is the man he can trust at the heart of Manchester United's defence.

The former Fulham youngster has worked his way back into contention at Old Trafford having been overlooked during the opening weeks of the Premier League after completing his recovery from a foot injury during pre-season.

The 23-year-old has since started and completed four of United's last five games, producing accomplished performances in his preferred position at centre half in his side's Capital One Cup victory over Liverpool and in Champions League games against Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk.

With Jonny Evans now back to full fitness, Moyes now has five options at centre back to choose from. Given the advancing years of Rio Ferdinand there is a long term position available alongside Nemanja Vidic and Smalling is determined to become the man his manager can throw his faith in to.

"It was a confidence boost for me to get picked," Smalling told United's official website. "I want to be involved as much as I can now. Hopefully I can show the manager I can do a job and he can count on me. He wants players out there he can trust.

Smalling was named in Roy Hodgson's England squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland later this month, but his immediate focus will be upon a trip to Sunderland this weekend.

After two consecutive league losses to Manchester City and West Brom, Moyes finds himself under increased pressure to turn around what has been the club's worst start to a season in 24 years.

After picking up a hard-earned point away to Shakhtar, Smalling believes the club have been left in a good position to turn things around domestically, starting with a trip to the Stadium of Light.

"We know ourselves that Saturday and a few other results have not gone our way," Smalling added.

"But we have been looking forward to this game (against Shakhtar) and really showing we have a bit of character and fight among us.

"You can only build confidence through performances. Tonight there was half a performance. It wasn't great by any means but a point well-earned at a hard place to come gives us some positives.

"After Saturday, this week was crucial with two away games. Now we need to make sure we get three points on Saturday (against Sunderland), then things will look a lot better going into the international break. If we don't get that win, we have two weeks to ponder on what may have been."