Manchester United news: Chris Smalling injury clouded in confusion as club play down 'broken toe'

Smalling played in the defeat by Chelsea with his toe apparently broken in two places after taking two painkilling injections under Jose Mourinho's instructions

Jack de Menezes
Friday 11 November 2016 09:20 GMT
Chris Smalling played against Chelsea with his toe broken in two places and is now out for at least a month
Chris Smalling played against Chelsea with his toe broken in two places and is now out for at least a month (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Jose Mourinho is facing further criticism for his decision to question Chris Smalling’s commitment to Manchester United after the defender was apparently ruled out for a month with a broken toe, just one week after his own manager publicly asked whether he was giving his all for the club.

But confusion arose on Friday evening after United partially denied the story and played down the severity of Smalling’s injury to The Independent without confirming how long the centre-back will remain absent for.

Mourinho, who also chose to hit out at Luke Shaw after both he and Smalling pulled out of the squad that played Swansea last weekend, will face uncomfortable questions once the Premier League resumes next week, while he has also been warned by the Professional Footballers’ Association for his recent comments.

Should the injury prove as bad as is being feared, Smalling will miss the rest of November as well as part of next month, meaning he will not be available for next weekend’s visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford, after he suffered a broken toe in two places, according to claims made in the Daily Mail.

The 26-year-old could even miss up to seven weeks, meaning he may not play again before Christmas, although toe injuries tend to heal closer to four weeks. The news is another blow to Mourinho’s defensive plans, with Eric Bailly already on the sidelines with knee ligament damage. The Ivory Coast international will miss another month, meaning that Mourinho is without his two first-choice centre-backs for the majority of the rest of 2016.

The news also calls into question United’s medical department, which Mourinho has ordered a full review into. The Portuguese was already concerned about the handling of Henrikh Mkhitaryan after he returned from international duty with Armenia in September with a thigh injury, only to play a few days later in the Manchester derby.

The Armenian was hauled off by Mourinho at half-time, and club doctors fdiscovered that he had a large tear in his thigh three days’ later, despite being given the all-clear for the 2-1 loss to Manchester City.

Now it appears that the same has happened with Smalling. The England international was told to have two painkilling injections by Mourinho in order to play the 23 October defeat by Chelsea where Smalling was clearly off the pace, having been at fault for Pedro’s opening goal 29 seconds into the match.

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Mourinho told MUTV after the Swansea victory last week that Smalling “doesn’t feel he can play 100 per cent without pain” before going on to criticise the players in his squad that are not willing to push themselves through the pain barrier.

As well as the Arsenal encounter, Smalling will miss the Europa League tie with Feyenoord, the EFL Cup quarter-final against West Ham and Premier League matches against the Hammers and Everton. Should he remain out until Christmas, Smalling will also miss league games against Tottenham, Crystal Palace and West Brom, as well as the final Europa League group match against Zorya Ludansk.

With Bailly also sidelined, Phil Jones could be reintegrated into the starting line-up much quicker than Mourinho had hoped, given the defender has played one match in over 10 months, though he was able to start the trip to Swansea last weekend.

However, it appears that the wave of injuries will force Mourinho into the transfer market once again in January, despite spending over £145m on squad reinforcements in the summer. Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez has attracted Mourinho’s attention, while Benfica’s Victor Lindelof is also being monitored.

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