English Premiership

Smalling defends character after Mourinho criticism

Chris Smalling (Gallo Images)
Chris Smalling (Gallo Images)

Burton-on-Trent - Centre-back Chris Smalling believes he has proved he is willing to play through the pain for Manchester United, despite manager Jose Mourinho's claims to the contrary.

Mourinho has accused Smalling of not putting his body on the line, suggesting he would only play when he felt "100 percent" and claiming "brave" players played "at any cost".

But Smalling says the fact he played with a broken toe in United's 4-0 defeat at Chelsea last October was evidence of his commitment to the United cause.

"I think in the Chelsea game I proved that I can play with the (pain-killing) injections," said Smalling, who has also spent time on the sidelines with a knee injury this season.

"To be honest, I don't think any player is ever 100%. There's always something. Out of the whole squad, there is going to be some niggle.

"As players, it's not about always being 100%. It's about going on the pitch and doing a job."

Rather than taking exception to Mourinho's remarks, Smalling said he had used them as motivation.

"It's good when he shows that frustration because it shows he wants you back out on that pitch," Smalling told reporters at England's St George's Park base in Burton-on-Trent.

"If he wasn't interested, I think he would just leave you alone and he wouldn't say any of these things.

"So I take it as a positive, as a challenge to get back as quick as I can, which I would have done anyway, regardless of whatever was said."

Smalling, 27, is in the England squad for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow and Tuesday's friendly against France in Paris.