Southgate regrets Smalling treatment and hands defender England lifeline
Gareth Southgate admits he regrets the way he has handled Chris Smalling and hinted an England recall is on the cards.
Southgate appears to be ready to end Smalling’s two-and-a-half year international exile after making a recent scouting trip to watch him play for Roma.
It would be a remarkable U-turn on the part of the England boss who publicly questioned Smalling’s ability on the ball when he dropped him from the squad in November 2017.
The Manchester United defender, who has 31 caps, is enjoying a brilliant run of form on loan in Serie A.
Southgate, who went with assistant Steve Holland to watch Smalling play in December, said: “I’ve never ruled anybody out. I think that would be wrong.
“I regretted the way the message of… by praising others for certain attributes, there was criticism for Chris. It was my fault and it was unfair on him.
“He’s done well in Italy, playing at another big club. We’re watching everybody as we’ve got to make sure we make the right decision. I spoke to him when I left him out of the squad and explained what I explained to everybody.
“Of course because of the way it came out, there was little point in talking to him again.”
But Southgate finds himself in a position where he is looking at his defensive options and Smalling is back in the frame.
Liverpool ’s Joe Gomez has been the stand-out English centre-half in the Premier League this term, Harry Maguire has had a difficult first season at United but they would appear to be the first-choice pairing while Tyrone Mings is also in the frame.
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