JOSE MOURINHO believes that Chris Smalling should be part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
The defender is currently playing under the Portuguese manager for Roma in Serie A and is a regular in the starting XI.
Smalling has not represented the Three Lions since 2017 and has not been picked by Southgate for either of the last two tournaments.
However, the former Manchester United defender’s current club boss admitted that he would pick him for England off the back of his performances for Roma.
Mourinho said: “He was taught to play in a two-man defence in Manchester, but now he’s got the perfect acumen to play in a three-man backline.
“If I were the coach of a national team, I would do anything to have someone like him at my disposal.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of respect to Gareth Southgate when I say that I feel very sorry for a player who’s playing at such a high level like Smalling and who won’t get the opportunity he deserves.”
England are somewhat in a defensive crisis at the moment after star defenders Kyle Walker are likely to miss the World Cup in Qatar.
While other defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold are also struggling for fitness, which could pave the way for Smalling to make a surprise return to the England set-up.
Smalling joined Roma from Manchester United in 2019 on an initial loan deal but after impressing the Italian club, they decided to make his move permanent for a fee rising up to £20million.
The 32-year-old had a tougher second season in Italy as he struggled for consistent game time.
Last season however he was named man of the match in the Europa Conference League as Roma beat Feyenoord to win the competition.
In 2017, the England manager admitted that the reason he dropped Smalling was that he did not fit into his style of play.
He said: “I have huge respect for Chris. He is a player playing at a big club.
“We want to play in a certain way and the players I have brought in I want to see using the ball from the back and building it up in a certain way.”
However, Southgate did later regret his choice of words and is aware of how the defender has performed in Italy.
In 2020 Southgate said: “I think I said I probably regretted the way the message [came over] – by praising others for certain attributes, there was criticism for Chris.
“It was my fault and it was unfair on him. I think he’s done well in Italy. He’s playing at another big club.”
England start their Qatar World Cup campaign with the group game against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium on November 21.
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