Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said he is “totally against” international friendlies following the injuries suffered by Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on England duty.
Jones had to withdraw from Gareth Southgate’s squad with a toe injury suffered in a training ground clash with Smalling, who later pulled out of the group after sustaining a leg injury in the friendly against Germany.
Both defenders missed England’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Lithuania, leading Mourinho to question the need for friendlies during the season.
“I am totally against the friendly matches,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “I think friendly matches for the national team only make sense before the final phases.
“A couple of weeks before the Euros or a couple of weeks before the World Cup makes sense. But mid-season friendly matches mixed with qualification matches, I don’t think that makes sense.
“On top of that the matches are not really big matches so I am not a big fan. But I think one day I will be there so I cannot be very critical.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 29, 2017
Mourinho, who had 13 players away on international duty, believes his side will be at a disadvantage when they resume Premier League action at home to West Brom on Saturday. although he underestimated the number of Baggies players who joined up with their national teams in the past fortnight.
“If you compare our situation with our opponents, West Bromwich Albion, only one player on international duty. They had time to work, time to rest and prepare. It’s going to be hard,” Mourinho said, in an interview for this week’s Soccer Saturday programme.
West Brom had the likes of Darren Fletcher, Jake Livermore, Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans and Hal Robson-Kanu away with their countries.
Mourinho expects to be without five first-team players against the Baggies, including Paul Pogba.
Along with Smalling and Jones, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera will both be absent as they sit out the final match of their suspensions while a hamstring problem ruled Pogba out of France’s international matches.
“I think Paul Pogba is also out so we lose five (players),” said Mourinho, who is hoping Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo return unscathed from South America having been in action in World Cup qualifiers.