Gareth Southgate questions Chris Smalling's passing ability

England's Chris Smalling during a training session at St George's Park, Burton.
Image: Chris Smalling was left out of the England squad

Gareth Southgate says Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was left out of his England squad due to concerns over his passing ability.

Southgate on Thursday included uncapped Liverpool defender Joe Gomez in an experimental 25-man squad for England's friendlies against Germany and Brazil later this month.

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Chelsea's Gary Cahill, Manchester City's John Stones, Harry Maguire of Leicester City and Smalling's United team-mate Phil Jones also made the cut at centre-back, but not Smalling, who has been capped 31 times.

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Asked if he felt Smalling struggles to play the ball out from the back, Southgate replied: "No, I think he can. We have players like Stones and (Eric) Dier and Maguire who are even better.

"Chris has got 30 caps, he plays for Manchester United, so I know what he can do. The other guys I want to see and want to look at and that's an important part of how we want to play, building from there.

"That's probably the toughest call I've had to make because of the team that Chris is playing for and the fact he's playing and keeping clean sheets.

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"We had the best defensive record in Europe in qualifying. But we're nowhere near the highest scorers and so we've got to address that. Part of that is being able to build and create chances."

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