Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has declared that he is “totally against” international friendlies, after defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling sustained injuries while on England duty last week.
Smalling started England’s friendly defeat in Germany but later had to withdraw from the squad with a leg injury, while Jones injured his toe in a training session after a robust challenge by his team-mate.
Both defenders were therefore absent from England’s 2-0 World Cup qualification victory over Lithuania, something that had Mourinho questioning whether there was any need for international friendlies.
"I am totally against the friendly matches," he told Sky Sports. "I think friendly matches for the national team only make sense before the final phases.
"But mid-season friendly matches mixed with qualification matches, I don't think that makes sense."
The absence of Smalling and Jones leaves United thin on the ground for their forthcoming Premier League match against West Brom on Saturday. Captain Wayne Rooney, record signing Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini are all further injury doubts.
Meanwhile the club’s leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as midfielder Ander Herrera, will miss the weekend's game as they serve the final game of their suspensions.
The club had 13 players in international duty over the past two weeks – including three who had travelled to South America to play in qualifying matches. And Mourinho thinks that the number of players who travelled hands West Brom a distinct advantage when the two teams meet this weekend.
"If you compare our situation with our opponents, West Bromwich Albion, only one player on international duty," he added.
"They had time to work, time to rest and prepare. It's going to be hard."
United are fifth in the league, four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two games in hand.