Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling insists that he is still "surprised" that he was dropped for the England national team after manager Gareth Southgate claimed the defender couldn't be used to play out from the back.
The 29-year-old last featured for the Three Lions in June 2017 during a World Cup qualification match against Scotland, but after five consecutive games as an unused substitute, he was dropped from the match day squad altogether.
Manager Southgate cited Smalling's inability to play out from the back as the reason for his omission, but the Manchester United star insists that there weren't any signs he would be left out in his previous games with England.
"I was surprised," Smalling said, quoted by The Sun. "I played a couple of games before that happened and the feedback I got was good.
"When we played Germany away and lost 1-0, I missed the next game through injury but he rang me after and was very complimentary. So I was surprised."
Come back we need u Chris— JussQ-man (@JussqM) February 16, 2019
He added that he was still disappointed not to be selected in England's World Cup squad that reached the semi-finals of the competition in Russia last year, but Smalling hasn't ruled out returning to international football at some point in the future.
"It was disappointing, I wish I was there," he added. "Now I’ll keep playing for United and see what happens."
Smalling's international future might still be up in the air, but he signed a new long-term contract with Manchester United back in December which will keep him tied to Old Trafford at least until 2022.