The Daily Mail suggests Smalling played against Chelsea with painkilling injections but was unable to do the same thing for our trip to Swansea which is why he informed Jose Mourinho he wasn’t available for selection.
It’s an interesting turn of events given that Mourinho publicly lambasted both Smalling and Luke Shaw after the Swansea match because they were not willing to play through some pain because if Chris will indeed miss a month due to a broken toe then you can completely understand why he didn’t want to play.
Mourinho was always treading on a fine line with his comments about Shaw and Smalling. While I do agree with him that players have to put themselves on the line for United, something I feel not many have in the last three years, it is also important to make sure the players aren’t pushed past their limits to cause more serious and long-term injuries. Why would he have publicly singled out Smalling if he knew he had a broken big toe at the time? It’s a strange one.
With Smalling out, Phil Jones is likely to get plenty of game time in December if he can stay fit but if he reverts to character and becomes injured, we may well get to see the breakthrough of Axel Tuanzebe into first-team football – something a lot of fans are excited to see.
We won’t get any official confirmation on Smalling’s fitness until after the international break and we will bring you that news as soon as we have it.