Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has questioned Gareth Southgate's decision to leave him out of the England squad for their recent friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
The Red Devils defender admits that he was surprised at the omission as the Three Lions manager chose to take John Stones, Harry Maguire, Joe Gomez and Phil Jones as his centre-backs for the double-header during the international break.
The latter of the quartet lasted for just 25 minutes of their first game against Germany before suffering an injury that saw him return to Manchester for further treatment. Stones, Maguire and Gomez, however, impressed the manager especially during their performance against Brazil — a game they drew 0-0.
Smalling, however, believes that he deserves a place in the team especially since he has been a regular under Jose Mourinho this season. The 28-year-old defender started the season on the bench as he was behind Jones and Eric Bailly in the pecking order, but injury absences for the duo saw him back in the fold for a place in the starting XI.
The England international has missed just one game for United since 12 September and has played the full 90 minutes in the last six games in the Premier League. He is also part of the most successful defence in the league at the moment.
The above statistics are the reason the defender is questioning Southgate's decision to leave him out of the squad. Smalling, however, remains unconcerned at the moment and believes that if he continues to perform in the same manner, the England boss will have no choice but to select him when he names his squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer.
"Was I surprised [to be left out]?" Smalling said, as quoted on United's official site. "Yes, I was. But you don't play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for as long as I have, and probably won the most trophies, bar the Champions League, without being a top defender, who can play and defend.
"I think, this year, we've got one of the best defensive records and I'm very proud to be a part of that. While I'm playing under Jose, and I'm playing regularly, I'm happy with that.
"I play under one of the biggest, most successful managers in Jose, and he's only going to pick the best players. So, while I'm playing regularly and he's happy, and my season carries on like this, and we have a successful season and our team concedes very few goals - it maybe gives him no choice in the summer, but to pick me," the United defender added.