Manchester United are facing a defensive crisis after Chris Smalling was ruled for at least four weeks with a broken toe. The defender has not played for the Red Devils since their 4-0 loss to Chelsea and came under criticism from Jose Mourinho for not playing through the pain barrier following their 3-1 win over Swansea City prior to the international break.

The Portuguese manager had praised Smalling earlier in the season for playing through injury during their loss to Chelsea, but criticised him for pulling out of the game against Swansea, which in hindsight the manager could regret.

According to the Mirror, the England international's toe is broken in two places, and this could keep him out for a month and Smalling may not return until Christmas. The 26-year-old is likely to miss up to seven games including crucial fixtures against Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton in the Premier League and their League Cup quarter-final game against West Ham United.

He has been a mainstay in United's defence since Daley Blind was moved to left-back and had formed a strong partnership with Eric Bailly. The latter is currently injured and will not be available for another month, and Smalling's latest setback will be a major blow for Mourinho going into a crucial part of the season.

Phil Jones has returned from a knee injury and made his first appearance of the season against Swansea City and is likely to retain his place for the upcoming games. Luke Shaw could also return for the clash against Arsenal on 19 November, which will see Blind return to centre-back alongside the former Blackburn Rovers defender. Marcos Rojo is the only available option for Mourinho at centre-back if any more of his current stars suffer any injuries.

Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling has not played for United since their 4-0 loss to Chelsea Getty