The 25-year-old had to be substituted with due to illness during the week away on international duty with England and there was a suspicion of concussion, so it was certainly the right move to take him off if only for a precaution.
Despite his early withdrawal from England’s game against Italy, it sounds like he will be available for the visit of Villa to Old Trafford on Saturday.
While an injury to Smalling earlier in the season would have been met with shoulder shrugs from United fans, his fantastic turn of form means he is now most probably Louis van Gaal‘s most in-form defender. It certainly has been a mature recovery from Smalling ever since his red card away to Manchester City earlier this season.
The jury was out for Smalling after that moment of madness at the Etihad but to his credit he really has upped his game, especially in the last two games against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, to the point where he is now almost certain to start in defence if fully fit.
The return to fitness of Marcos Rojo will give van Gaal some options at centre-back but backed up by his recent form, it would be a surprise to see Smalling out of the starting XI to play Villa for anything other than an injury.