Chris Smalling left out of Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad

by Leo Nieboer

Chris Smalling has been excluded from Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad ahead of friendlies with Italy and the Netherlands this month.

The Englishman has been a mainstay in Jose Mourinho‘s defence since the turn of the year but continues to receive heavy criticism from supporters for shaky displays at the back – most notably against Newcastle Untied and Sevilla in recent times.

His last appearance for England, however, dates back to almost a year ago when he featured in a back three against Germany.

And the 28-year-old, following a galling setback on Tuesday, has suffered a significant blow to his World Cup hopes.

Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young have all kept their place in Southgate’s team, but Smalling finds himself in something of a sticky situation.

His hopes of being on the plane to Russia are painfully slim and he could find himself heading for the exit door at Old Trafford as well.

Mourinho is reportedly open to offloading Phil Jones and Smalling, who have both been unreliable in one way or another this term, in order to make room for Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti, who has a release clause of around £54m and could be available in the summer amid disputes with his current club over wages.

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