Tuesday 28 January 2020

Chris Smalling plans to let his football do the talking ahead of World Cup

The centre-back helped keep Harry Kane at bay on Saturday.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Emirates FA Cup – Semi Final – Wembley Stadium
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Emirates FA Cup – Semi Final – Wembley Stadium

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Chris Smalling intends to let his football continue to do the talking after admitting he has not spoken to England boss Gareth Southgate about a place in his World Cup squad.

The Manchester United defender was at the top of his game alongside compatriot Phil Jones as the Red Devils beat Tottenham 2-1 in Saturday’s first FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

After Dele Alli slid in to give Spurs an early lead, the England pair at the heart of Jose Mourinho’s backline then set about keeping the likes of Harry Kane quiet for the rest of the contest.

Jones is all-but certain of his place on the plane to Russia but Smalling has played only twice under Southgate – who has omitted the 28-year-old from recent squads as he believes he has better options as ball-playing centre-backs.

“All I can do is play the games and at the minute I’m playing every game and performing in big games so I’ll just keep doing my job,” he said when asked about a potential England recall.

“Of course you want to be playing in the summer. All you can do is let your football do the talking.

“I think I’ve been a mainstay in the set-up for quite a while now and I just want to finish the season as strongly as I can and see what happens. At the minute there’s no conversations and I’m going to keep playing my games.”

Smalling performed so well on Saturday that the official FA Cup Twitter account tweeted a joke about the former Fulham man having Kane in his pocket at Wembley.

“I love my battles against H,” said Smalling.

“I don’t think he’s scored too many against me so long may that continue. It’s nice testing yourself against the best because certainly this year he’s been one of the best.”

Smalling may not have the complete faith of Southgate, but has played a major part at United under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and now Mourinho.

While Manchester City have cantered to the Premier League title, Smalling could still be part of a team that finishes second and claims the FA Cup and he believes his longevity at Old Trafford is proof he can still cut it at the top.

“I think it takes big characters to last so long at United,” he added.

“They’re always being linked to every player who has played the game but the manager has faith in you and all the managers have faith in me and now I just want to finish the season as strongly as I can and enjoy it.

“I think we have shown as a group of players we are strong enough to handle any occasion. I think we’re building there and I think a case of especially in the last few months of playing some very big games.

“We knew these months were big games for us and I think we have won near enough all the big ones so I think we’re going to build up a lot of confidence going into next year.”

PA Media

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