Chris Smalling
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling forced off due to illness during England's clash against Italy on Tuesday.Getty

Manchester United have been handed a fresh fitness blow after Chris Smalling was withdrawn late into the first-half during England's clash against Italy in Turin on Tuesday.

The FA have confirmed that it was not an injury but illness that forced the defender off, but this could hamper his chances to feature for the 20-time English champions, when they welcome Aston Villa on Saturday.

"The FA confirmed illness was the reason behind Chris Smalling's premature exit in England's 1-1 draw with Italy on Tuesday, which may make him a doubt for Manchester United's Barclays Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday," a statement on United's official site read.

The defender played 43 minutes of England's game against the Azzuri and was then substituted after failing to recover from a tackle.

Louis van Gaal will be anxious to find out the extent of Smalling's illness as the defender has been a key component in the Old Trafford club's recent upturn in form, which has seen United record convincing wins over top four rivals Liverpool and Tottenham in recent weeks.

Smalling, who joined United in 2010, struggled at the start of the season under Van Gaal with injuries and lack of form, but has come through strongly in recent months which have seen him start the last five games for United, and he has also formed a strong partnership with Phil Jones at the heart of United's defence.

The 25-year-old defender, who has made 22 appearances for United this season, will be entering into the final year of his contract at the end of the current campaign and has yet to be given an extension, which has seen him linked with a move away from the club with Arsenal said to be interested in signing him.

However, the defender has reiterated his happiness at playing for United, but is not aware if he is being offered a new deal to extend his Old Trafford stay.