‘If I were the national team coach I would do anything to have someone like him at my disposal’: Jose Mourinho claims Chris Smalling deserves a recall from England ahead of the World Cup after starring for Roma
- Chris Smalling was a key player for Roma under Jose Mourinho this season
- Mourinho thinks he deserves to play for England in his current form
- However, he does not expect Smalling to return to the England squad anytime soon
- Smalling has 31 caps, but has not played for England since 2017
Jose Mourinho has claimed he would not hesitate to choose Roma defender Chris Smalling for England if he were in charge of the Three Lions.
Smalling has been in fine form this season, helping Mourinho’s side keep their fourth clean sheet of the season in their 1-0 win over Sampdoria on Monday.
After that win, Mourinho praised Smalling for his adaptability and said he would love to have him by his side at international level. However, he hinted that he does not expect the 32-year-old to face a recall from England any time soon.
Chris Smalling (L) was a standout performer for Roma in the early weeks of the season
Jose Mourinho has said he would like to have Smalling on his team if he were in charge of England
“He learned in Manchester to play in a two-man defence, but now he has the perfect acumen to play in a three-man backline,” Mourinho told reporters when asked about Smalling.
“If I were the coach of a national team, I would do everything I could to have someone like him at my disposal.
“I don’t think it’s a disrespect for Gareth Southgate if I say I feel very sorry for a player who plays at such a high level as Smalling and who doesn’t get the chance he deserves.”
Smalling has excelled at the heart of a back three at Roma under Mourinho, a system Southgate loves, and England have concerns over injuries in defense ahead of next month’s World Cup, with Kyle Walker and Reece James both having serious doubts for the tournament.
Gareth Southgate has not named Smalling in any of his England squads since 2017
Southgate has also chosen AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori in his recent squads, showing that he has his eye on players outside the Premier League.
This may give Smalling some hope of getting back into Southgate’s plans, even though the last of his 31 caps for England came back in June 2017.
Southgate dropped Smalling from the national team lineup five years ago after he appeared to question the defender’s ability to play from behind.
Explaining the decision, he said: ‘We want to play a certain way and the players I’ve brought in I want to see the ball from behind and build it up a certain way.’
The England boss has since spoken of his regret at the way his comments were interpreted.
Smalling could be in contention for the World Cup with Kyle Walker (L) and Reece James (R) both doubting injuries
‘I probably regretted the way the message was sent’ [came over] – by praising others for certain traits, Chris was criticized,” he said in March 2020.
“It was my fault and it was unfair to him.”
Smalling has played every minute of Roma’s league campaign this season and has five Serie A games left before national football takes a break to try and make his way into Southgate’s World Cup squad.