Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

Portugal POR 1

Morocco MAR 0

REPORT

Uruguay URY 1

Saudi Arabia SAU 0

REPORT

Iran IRN 0

Spain ESP 1

REPORT

Denmark DNK 1

Australia AUS 1

REPORT

France FRA 1

Peru PER 0

REPORT

Argentina ARG 0

Croatia CRO 3

REPORT

Brazil BRA

Costa Rica CRI

Nigeria NGA

Iceland ISL

Serbia SRB

Switzerland SUI

Belgium BEL

Tunisia TUN

South Korea KOR

Mexico MEX

Germany GER

Sweden SWE

England ENG

Panama PAN

Japan JPN

Senegal SEN

Poland POL

Colombia COL

Saudi Arabia SAU

Egypt EGY

Uruguay URY

Russia RUS

Spain ESP

Morocco MAR

Iran IRN

Portugal POR

Denmark DNK

France FRA

Australia AUS

Peru PER

Iceland ISL

Croatia CRO

Nigeria NGA

Argentina ARG

Mexico MEX

Sweden SWE

South Korea KOR

Germany GER

Switzerland SUI

Costa Rica CRI

Serbia SRB

Brazil BRA

Senegal SEN

Colombia COL

Japan JPN

Poland POL

Panama PAN

Tunisia TUN

England ENG

Belgium BEL

I've nothing to prove after being axed by England, insists Smalling

 

By Simon Peach

Chris Smalling was "surprised" to be dropped by England and have his ability publicly questioned by manager Gareth Southgate - but the Manchester United defender does not believe he has anything to prove.

The Three Lions' World Cup preparations kicked off with back-to-back glamour friendlies at home to Germany and Brazil, which both ended 0-0.

Southgate plumped for a surprisingly inexperienced squad, preferring the likes of uncapped Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Joe Gomez and Tammy Abraham ahead of established names such as Smalling.

The defender, capped 31 times by his country, has impressed for United this season, but Southgate overlooked him as England are moving towards a brand new style of "using the ball from the back and building up in a certain way".

Those comments compounded Smalling's omission and clearly grated on the centre-back.

"Was I surprised? Yes, I was," he said.

"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 able to do everything a top defender needs to do, be it playing or defending.

"This year, as a team, we've got one of the best defensive records, and we have done for the last few years, and I'm very proud to be part of that.

"While I'm playing under Jose (Mourinho) and he's happy and I'm playing regularly, then I'm happy with that."

Smalling, speaking ahead of United's Champions League clash in Basel tonight, did not hold back when asked about the decision, with his belief of forcing his way into Southgate's thoughts for the World Cup next summer clear.

"I play for one of the biggest clubs in the world and under one of the most successful managers in Jose," he said. "And as long as that's the case, ultimately it's your club form that decides whether you play at a World Cup because there aren't many England games throughout the season.

"While I'm playing regularly here and part of a very successful team, I think that should show come the summer.

"I don't really feel like I need to prove anything to Gareth.

"Like I said, I play for one of the most successful managers in Jose and he's only going to pick the best players.

"While I'm playing regularly and he's happy, if my season carries on like this and we have a successful season and our team continues to concede very few goals, then I think it gives him maybe no choice in the summer but to pick me."

Smalling is pleased by his start to the season at United and enjoyed a week's downtime during the international break after being left out by England.

The defender said with a smile the rest worked as he scored in Saturday's 4-1 defeat of Newcastle, with Mourinho confirming the former Fulham man will get another chance to impress against Basel with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones unavailable due to injury.

"I think I'm getting a good run of games these last few months and I'm feeling good," Smalling added.

"You want to be able to play regular games and be a part of a successful team and so far we have been successful, it's just a case of improving on last year when we won two trophies and improving on that."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph