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Smalling ‘nothing to prove’ as he bids to regain England place

London (AFP) – Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says he has nothing to prove despite the shock of losing his England place and seeing his ability publicly questioned by manager Gareth Southgate.

The 27-year-old, capped 31 times for England, was overlooked for recent friendlies against Germany and Brazil because of concerns over his passing despite impressing for United this season.

“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 able to do everything a top defender needs to do, be it playing or defending,” he said.

“This year, as a team, we’ve got one of the best defensive records and we have done for the last few years and I’m very proud to be part of that.”

Smalling, speaking ahead of United’s Champions League clash in Basel on Wednesday, said he was confident he could force his way into Southgate’s thoughts for the World Cup in Russia next year.

“I play for one of the biggest clubs and under one of the most successful managers in Jose (Mourinho),” he said in comments reported by British newspapers.

He added: “While I’m playing regularly and he’s happy I think, if my season carries on like this and we have a successful season and our team continues to concede very few goals, then I think it gives him maybe no choice in the summer but to pick me.”

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