Manchester United defender Chris Smalling admits his recent injury lay-off has been immensely frustrating but is delighted to be back in action for the Red Devils.
The England international limped off after 17 minutes of United’s Premier League win over Southampton earlier this month and subsequently missed the fixtures against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Newcastle United with a groin injury.
Smalling was brought on the final 20 minutes during Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane, but the 25-year-old has revealed that being sidelined for the past few weeks negatively affected his mood.
Smalling reveals frustration
"The injury was massively frustrating, but it’s good that I haven’t missed too many games, and hopefully I can get back into the side and begin contributing again," the centre-back told MUTV.
"You have grumpy days! [when you're injured]. It’s difficult when you see the other players out on the training pitch while you have to stay inside and take it slowly.”
Smalling: United have been unlucky
Smalling believes Manchester United have been unlucky with the sheer number of injuries suffered this season, but feels it could be a different story for the Red Devils in 2015.
“We’ve been unfortunate - you tend to go through phases where you suffer no injuries at all, and then three or four will come along at once,” the former Fulham starlet added. “We’ve not been able to stem the tide just yet, but hopefully in the new year we’ll have more players available for some important games."
Smalling bounces back from red card
Smalling was heavily criticised for his sending off against Manchester City on November 2, but has bounced back superbly since then, producing a series of composed and disciplined performances to win back the trust of manager Louis van Gaal.
The 1-0 defeat to City was, incidentally, United’s previous defeat. Van Gaal’s side are currently on a nine-match unbeaten run and now prepare to take on Stoke City on New Year’s Day.
United remain on course to achieve their pre-season objective - securing qualification for the Champions League - while some believe they have an outside chance of wining the Premier League title.
For that to happen, though, they will need Chelsea to capitulate and Manchester City to fail to capitalise.
Jose Mourinho’s side are currently ten points clear of United, while City have a seven-point lead over their local rivals.