Chris Smalling: England manager Gareth Southgate regrets criticising defender

Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling has scored two goals in 28 appearances for Roma this season

England manager Gareth Southgate says he regrets criticising defender Chris Smalling and has not ruled out including him in his Euro 2020 squad.

Smalling, who has impressed while on loan at Roma from Manchester United this season, has not featured for the national team since June 2017.

Southgate suggested at the time that Smalling's omission was due to an inability to play out from the back.

However, the 30-year-old still hopes he can make England's Euro 2020 squad.

"I've never ruled anybody out. I think that would be wrong," said Southgate - who previously said he wanted players who could "play in a certain way".

"I said I probably regretted the way the message [came over]. By praising others for certain attributes, there was criticism for Chris.

"It was my fault and it was unfair on him. I think he's done well in Italy. We're watching everybody because we've got to make sure we make the right decision.

"I spoke to him when I left him out the squad and explained what I explained to everybody. Of course, because of the way it came out, there was little point - I wasn't going to say anything that hadn't already been said."

Smalling, capped 31 times for England, has made 28 appearances since joining Roma - who are fifth in Serie A - on a season-long loan in August.

Having been "surprised" by Southgate's initial comments, Smalling said last month that his "ambition is always there with England".

England's next game is a friendly against Italy at Wembley on 27 March, with their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on 14 June.