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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 17 January, 2018
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Chris Smalling hits back at England snub

The Manchester United defender has been overlooked by Gareth Southgate of late, but he is happy with his form and fighting for a World Cup spot.

Chris Smalling (file pic)
Chris Smalling (file pic)

CHRIS SMALLING IS surprised to have been frozen out by England, but has reminded Gareth Southgate that he does play for “one of the biggest clubs in the world.”

The Manchester United defender was left out of the latest Three Lions squad as his national team coach suggested that he was eager to work with ball-playing centre-halves.

Smalling has not taken that snub to heart and remains determined to fight for a place at next summer’s World Cup finals.

He has also been quick to point out that he has little to complain about as he remains on the books of a global giant and has already shown down the years that he is a more than capable operator in his chosen position.

Smalling told reporters ahead of United’s latest Champions League outing against Basel: “Was I surprised [to be left out]? Yes, I was. But you don’t play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for as long as I have, and probably won the most trophies, bar the Champions League, without being a top defender, who can play and defend.

“I think, this year, we’ve got one of the best defensive records and I’m very proud to be a part of that. While I’m playing under Jose, and I’m playing regularly, I’m happy with that.

I play under one of the biggest, most successful managers in Jose [Mourinho], and he’s only going to pick the best players. So, while I’m playing regularly and he’s happy, and my season carries on like this, and we have a successful season and our team concedes very few goals – it maybe gives him [Southgate] no choice in the summer, but to pick me.”

For now, Smalling’s focus is locked on domestic and European matters with United.

Mourinho’s men are set to face Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday coming off the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 victory over Newcastle which saw Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic welcomed back into the fold.

“I think it would strike fear into myself if I was playing against them, and it strikes fear into most teams,” Smalling added on the attacking options now available to the Red Devils.

“Obviously we’ve got Paul back, who’s a very attacking midfielder, and along with Ibra and all those other names it just gives us so many options and no matter what game it is, no matter what competition it is, we’ve got a front three or four who can cause the opposition problems. So if we keep it tight at the back, more often than not, we’re going to win the game.”

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