Chris Smalling insists he has “a very good relationship” with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho despite seeing his bravery questioned this season.
With the Red Devils having been forced to contend with regular rounds of injuries this season, their manager has grown increasingly frustrated at an inability to field his strongest side.
Mourinho has aired his displeasure at times, with certain members of his squad urged to show greater commitment to the cause by returning from knocks quicker than expected.
He said of Smalling and fellow defender Phil Jones: “It’s time for Jones and Smalling to be brave - to [take a] risk - because for the team you have to do everything. You can’t do miracles but you have to try to do everything to accelerate the process.”
Smalling could have been forgiven for feeling unfairly singled out as he nursed his way back from a knee injury, but the England international insists the comments from his boss are merely an example of his all-encompassing desire to win and to bring the best out of those around him.
He told Sky Sports News: “We speak very closely with the manager and we have got a very good relationship.
“All throughout my injury we spoke about the process and when I would be back so it is good that the manager wants you because ultimately he has got that decision of whether you play or not.
“You can take positives from it in that the manager wants you out on that pitch. He wants you to represent him and be that fighter and warrior for him.
“Obviously with a knee injury there are certain protocols that need to happen.
“With the medical staff and with the coaches, we are pushing all the time. As players we don’t want to be sitting on the touchline or watching the games in the directors’ box. That is no fun.
“We have pushed as much as we can and I am glad to be back.”
Smalling sat out United’s entire schedule in April, but returned to action against Celta Vigo in the Europa League on May 4 and has now taken in 35 appearances across all competitions this season.