Smalling has been capped 31 times by his country, but the last came in 2017 as he was dropped from the squad by Southgate and has failed to regain his place in the team. Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp has claimed that his form in Italy has meant that Smalling was unlucky to have been left out of the squad.
“I think who was unlucky, who’s never been spoken about in defence talking about form, I think Chris Smalling was unlucky,” Redknapp told Sky Sports. “He’s done a great job for Roma, Jose Mourinho’s a huge fan of his, he’s improved his defensive aspects beyond all recognition. He’s one who never got a mention but I think right now looking at our defensive squad, he’s unlucky not to be in it.”
Centre-backs Harry Maguire, John Stones, Conor Coady, Eric Dier and Ben White were picked ahead of both Serie A defenders Smalling and Fikayo Tomori, as the two have enjoyed successful spells in Italy. Stones and White are the two players most in form, though both have mainly played on the right-hand side of their respective back fours.
Smalling has a history with Southgate however, after criticising the decision to drop the defender from the squad in 2017. “I was surprised,” Smalling said five years ago.
“But you don’t play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for as long as I have and win every trophy bar the Champions League without being able to do everything a top defender needs to do, be it playing or defending.
“I don’t really feel like I need to prove anything to Gareth. Like I said, I play for one of the most successful managers in José and he’s only going to pick the best players. I’m getting a good run of games these last few months and I’m feeling good.”