Jose Mourinho claims Gareth Southgate should recall Chris Smalling for England ahead of the World Cup
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Roma manager Jose Mourinho believes that Gareth Southgate should recall Chris Smalling to the England squad ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
Smalling, 32, was initially loaned out by Manchester United to Roma in 2019 before the Serie A club made the switch permanent in 2020.
The former England defender has revitalised his career in Italy’s top-flight league, with Smalling once again linking up with former United manager Mourinho.
Mourinho has relied on Smalling in a back three for Roma and the pair lifted major silverware last season with the Italian club’s Europa Conference League triumph.
Smalling, who has made 110 appearances in his three years at Roma, has not made an appearance for England since 2017.
However, Mourinho claims that the Roma centre-back deserves a second chance in the England squad after highlighting his versatility in a back three.
Speaking after Roma’s 1-0 win over Sampdoria on Monday, Mourinho told reporters: “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.”
Smalling’s adaptability to play in a back three could prove invaluable to Southgate, who favours the defensive system for England.
The Three Lions boss flew to Italy in September to watch former United star Smalling and Roma striker Tammy Abraham in action against Udinese.
Southgate already faces injury doubts over Chelsea full-back Reece James and Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker ahead of England’s World Cup campaign.
The England manager is expected to announce his expanded preliminary England squad, which can include up to 55 names, on Friday.
However, Southgate will then need to submit his final 26-man England squad to FIFA on 14th November ahead of the start of the World Cup.
Smalling has started every league match for Roma this season and has scored three times, with Mourinho’s men sitting fourth in the Serie A table after 10 matches.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy/AS Roma
Topics: AS Roma, Serie A, Italy, England, Jose Mourinho, Chris Smalling, Gareth Southgate, Football