Jose Mourinho critical of Chris Smalling: “He can’t play through pain.”

Andy Mattioli

Roma boss Jose Mourinho sounded off on defender Chris Smalling who has missed the last three months with chronic knee pain.

The Special One addressed Smalling’s unclear status in Saturday’s press conference ahead of the match with Udinese.

“Regarding Smalling, the injury is very much there. There are also regular people like us, who aren’t high-performance athletes, who have a greater pain threshold. Maybe I can sleep fine with toothache, maybe you struggle. That’s how it is.”

“Smalling isn’t capable of playing through pain. He holds something back. His specific issue is a real challenge. It’s really frustrating for me because his position – centre back – is where we’re most desperate for players. But that’s how it is. We’ve just got to be patient. I shouldn’t beat myself up or criticise him. We’ll just wait and see when he’s ready.”

“He spent the whole of this week with the medical team. He’s not at a point where he’s splitting his time evenly between the doctors and the coaching staff, be it in the gym or on the pitch. He doesn’t even know what the weather is like because it’s been that long since he’s been outside. That’s holding him back. However, it’s been his first pain-free week.”

“The aim is to get him on the pitch next week. But working with whom? Not with me – I’m talking about physios, medical staff. He’s behind on his recovery and I don’t expect to see him back in action in the next two to three weeks.”

“Will he be back this year? Yes or no…Let’s hope so. We’ll see.”

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MatchDay 26
26 Feb 18:30