Manchester United defender Chris Smalling insists he is looking to end the season with a bang after lifting the lid on the tension he had with Jose Mourinho over his fitness.
A bumpy start to the campaign has made way for a relentless winning streak that United will look to extend to a ninth match in all competitions when Hull arrive in Tuesday’s EFL Cup semi-final first leg.
The Red Devils are just two matches away from Wembley and could be in for a busy end to the season, given they have FA Cup and Europa League exertions to juggle along with the Premier League.
Their recent upturn has moved United within three points of the top four and 10 behind leaders Chelsea; in fact it’s the club’s best run of form for eight years.
Speaking about his aims for the rest of the season, Smalling said: “I think the more games the better. I am always one that I would rather play than train.
“We are looking forward to it and obviously the last eight or nine weeks we have been getting that consistency.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves but if we keep up the form like this then who knows.”
Smalling’s excitement for the remainder of the campaign has no doubt been fuelled by a frustrating few months for him.
Saturday’s 4-0 FA Cup third-round win against Reading was just his second start since United lost by the same scoreline at Chelsea on October 23.
The intervening period has been marred by confusion over Smalling’s injury and Mourinho’s thoughts towards him, having seemingly questioned the validity of his, and Luke Shaw’s, absence at Swansea.
The England international confirmed that he played with a broken toe at Chelsea and suggested there was no ill-feeling with manager Mourinho.
“It was during the Fenerbahce game when I came off at half-time,” he said.
“I did it then and then obviously you try to carry on in games after and then you just have to sort of give in and it needed the rest, and now I am back and I have no problems.
“I think it’s nice when the manager wants you out there to play and I think me – and with most players – I try to push myself to the limit all the time and in the end it just needed the rest it needed. Now it’s all good so I am happy.”