In what will come as a PR gaffe for Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, centre back, Chris Smalling has been ruled out of action for a month, due to a broken toe. The Daily Mail reports that the 26-year-old England international was assessed after last weekend’s game against Swansea, which revealed that he suffered fractures in two places on his toe. After the game in Wales, Mourinho tore into Smalling and Luke Shaw for not wanting to “play with a little pain”. The Portuguese tactician made the claim that the pair were not fully committed to the cause of lifting the club out of the doldrums, but will this come as vindication for the former Fulham man.
Smalling, who was not called up to the England squad by interim manager, Gareth Southgate, has insisted that both he and Shaw are indeed injured, which is not what their club manager believes is the case. Smalling, it has to be said though has been nowhere near his indomitable best this season, after a remarkable campaign last term under Louis van Gaal. He last featured for United on October 23 against Chelsea, a match in which he and the entire Manchester United team were simply atrocious. The ‘commitment claim’ by Jose has led to the manager seeking replacements in the January transfer window, with the likes of Burnley’s Michael Keane, Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid and Southampton’s Jose Fonte being considered.
Injury in pre-season robbed him of the chance to fully integrate into the team early enough when he regained full fitness. Smalling needed two injections to play that game, and it seems he has aggravated the injury. Smalling joined United in 2010 and has made 217 appearances for the Red Devils. This season, he has featured in 11 matches, scoring once in the process. The England international is a classy, no nonsense defender also adept at playing form the right-back position. He is known for his heading ability and coordination of the defence line.
It is expected Smalling will miss the games against Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and West Ham, as well as the EFL Cup game against the Hammers. He should be fit in time for mid-December when the games come in thick and fast. United are suffering a mini defensive crisis at the moment, with Valencia, Shaw and Bailly also ruled out injured.