Champions League: Manchester United's Jose Mourinho hopes Chris Smalling doesn't get England call-up
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said he hoped defender Chris Smalling did not get called up by England because his players often returned from international duty with “real injuries”.
Basel: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said he hoped defender Chris Smalling did not get called up by England because his players often returned from international duty with “real injuries”.
The Portuguese’s comments at a news conference on Tuesday came in the wake of Smalling’s England and club team mate Phil Jones returning from the recent international break with a knee injury.
Jones will miss Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Basel and the visit of Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, Mourinho said.
England’s next matches are against Netherlands on 23 March and Italy four days later.
“I hope (Smalling) doesn’t get his spot (in the England team) because somebody comes (back) injured, he comes injured, Jones comes injured and real injuries,” Mourinho told reporters.
”Our injuries are real injuries. Jones does not play tomorrow and I can say in advance he doesn’t play the weekend too.
“Smalling is playing all the time and... tomorrow plays again. We don’t have Jones, we don’t have Eric Bailly again, so Smalling has to play every match and well.”
Centre back Bailly could be fit for the weekend, while striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who returned from a long-term knee ligament injury last weekend against Newcastle United, will start on the bench in Switzerland.
Mourinho said United’s doctors had not been informed about Jones receiving pain-killing injections before facing Germany at Wembley, the game in which he was injured, but ruled out taking the lack of communication up with England boss Gareth Southgate.
”I‘m not a doctor,“ he said. ”(The England doctors) consult my doctor in relation to Jones with a little problem in the knee when the national team starts working and then no more contact.
“And then the local injections before the match, we were not informed. Apart from that I don’t have to speak with Southgate.”
Mourinho said his comments about Smalling were from a selfish perspective and added that in reality he wanted his players to be happy and play for their national teams.
“I say in a selfish perspective but it is not a real perspective because what I want is my players to be happy and go to the national teams and an event like the World Cup,” he said.
United top Champions League Group A with 12 points from four matches, while Basel are second on six points, ahead of CSKA Moscow on goal difference.
Smalling confident of England call-up
Defender Chris Smalling believes his performances for Manchester United showcase his abilities, insisting he has nothing to prove to England manager Gareth Southgate after being omitted for the national team’s last two friendlies.
Smalling, who has 31 caps, has featured in all four of his club’s Champions League games this season as they lead their group with two games remaining, the first a trip to Basel in Switzerland on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old marked his seventh league appearance of the season with a goal in United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle United last weekend as the second-placed side maintained their eight-point gap behind leaders Manchester City.
“I don’t feel like I really need to prove anything to Gareth because I play under one of the biggest and most successful managers in Jose (Mourinho) and he’s only going to pick the best players,” Smalling told reporters on Tuesday.
”...I think ultimately if my season carries on like this and we have a successful season and our team still concedes very few goals, then I think it gives him maybe no choice in the summer but to pick me (for the 2018 World Cup).
“I’ve been getting a good run of games over these last few months and I‘m feeling good and that’s the feeling you want, you want to be able to play regular games and be a part of a successful team.”
Smalling is confident of earning a spot in England’s World Cup squad provided he plays regularly for United and backed the side to surpass last season’s haul when they won the League Cup and Europa League.
“I think, ultimately, it is your club form that decides whether you play at a World Cup because there aren’t that many England games throughout the season,” Smalling added.
“While I‘m playing regularly here and being a part of a very successful team I think that should show come the summer.”
United, who need one point to progress to the Champions League knockout stages, host Brighton and Hove Albion in the league on Saturday.
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