Chris Smalling says he was surprised to be omitted from World Cup squad despite Gareth Southgate’s complimentary phone call

Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling missed out on the Three Lions World Cup squad last summer, and he still can’t understand why he wasn’t on that plane to Russia.

The 29-year-old was a regular part of England’s World Cup qualifying campaign, winning his 31st cap in November 2017 against Germany.

However, after an injury ruled him out of the next game, manager Gareth Southgate refused to include him in subsequent squads and the final squad for the summer competition, citing his inability to play out from the back as a reason.

Smalling is still at loss over the sudden axe, though, as the manager had called to compliment him on the phone just weeks after his last cap.

“I was surprised. I played a couple of games before that happened and the feedback I got was good,” the United star told The Sun.

“When we played Germany away and lost 1-0, I missed the next game through injury but he rang me after and was very complimentary. So I was surprised.”

“It was disappointing (not to go to the World Cup), I wish I was there. Now I’ll keep playing for United and see what happens.”

The former Fulham star made his England debut in 2011, a year after arriving Old Trafford, and he was part of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships squads, making appearances at both tournaments.

Smalling has played 19 games across the EPL and Champions League for the Red Devils this term and will hope to keep impressing Southgate going forward so as to earn a recall to the national side and also make it to Euros 2020.

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