Chris Smalling is facing a four-week spell on the sidelines for Manchester United after suffering a broken toe. The blow comes in the wake of manager Jose Mourinho’s criticism of him last week.

The Manchester United manager had openly questioned the commitment levels of defenders Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw in the aftermath of his side’s 3-1 win at Swansea City. He had said: “I have friends from other sports, playing at the highest level. How many times do they play when they are not 100 per cent?”

To Mourinho’s embarrassment, though, tests on Smalling’s injury have revealed that the injured toe has fractures in two places, rendering the England international on the sidelines for at least a month.

According to the report by Daily Mail that broke the news of Smalling’s injury, Mourinho had asked the defender to take a couple of painkilling injections in his foot in order to last ninety minutes against Chelsea. Manchester United ended up losing the game 4-0 with Smalling coming under fire from a section of the Red Devils fanbase for his lacklustre display on the night.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Chris Smalling of Manchester United tackles Diego Costa of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 23: Chris Smalling of Manchester United tackles Diego Costa of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

However, Smalling has missed each of United’s three games since the Premier League clash on October 23, with his inability to turn up at the Liberty Stadium drawing Mourinho’s ire. If news of Smalling’s injury indeed is true, then the English defender could be ruled out for seven games, including crunch Premier League matches against Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, and the EFL Cup quarter-final tie against West Ham United.

Worse still for Mourinho and Manchester United, Smalling’s injury leaves the Old Trafford outfit without their preferred central defensive pairing, with Eric Bailly injured as well. The Ivory Coast international has himself been missing since the loss at Stamford Bridge last month, and is out for at least another month with a knee ligament injury.

Phil Jones did make a long awaited return from injury in the victory over Swansea last week to provide some respite to Manchester United. Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his fragile frame doesn’t break up any time soon with an injury crisis looming large.

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