As reported in The Metro, Mourinho said he ‘feels sorry’ for Smalling, who is highly unlikely to earn a place in Southgate’s squad, despite his excellent club form.
The former United manager and player have struck up a good relationship in Rome, with Smalling impressing at the heart of Mourinho’s defence.
Mourinho believes that Smalling would be a perfect fit for the current system deployed by Southgate, possessing the ability to play with a sole centre back partner or as part of a back three.
“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,” he said.
“If I were the coach of a national team, I would do anything to have someone like him at my disposal,” Mourinho added.
The Portuguese manager added that he feels the level Smalling is currently operating at is high enough to force his way into the international set up.
“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.” he said.
Smalling hasn’t featured for England since being omitted from Southgate’s squad in 2017.
England are not currently blessed with a plethora of centre back options; lack of playing time at club level for the usual starters add more credibility to Mourinho’s claims.
The irony is that Smalling’s replacement at Manchester United, Harry Maguire, is one of the aforementioned, clinging on to a starting place for his country despite poor form and fitness.
It is expected Southgate will stick with the players that have served him well in the last couple of tournaments, in which Smalling didn’t feature.
However, the form of the 32-year-old is indisputable and he can feel rightly aggrieved that his name is not in the mix, for a seat on the plane to Qatar.
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