Gareth Southgate backing Luke Shaw following Jose Mourinho's injury comments

The Portuguese boss had encouraged his players to play through pain

Luke Shaw

Image: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/PA Images

England interim manager Gareth Southgate defended Luke Shaw after the young Manchester United appeared to have his commitment questioned by Jose Mourinho.

The full-back withdrew himself from the United team to take on Swansea this weekend, which may have irked Mourinho after their 3-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium. 

"In every sport – and I know because I have friends and they play at the highest level in other sports – how many times you play and you are not 100%," he said.

"I have a friend that is a big tennis player, he tells me he remembers more the times he played with pain than the times he played without any pain. To compete you have to go to the limits. It’s a cultural thing for some and that’s not my culture.

"There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference. If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say many times they played without being 100%. For the team you have to do anything, that is my way of seeing [things].

"Of course, it is not just the players, it is the players and the people that surround the players. Yes, it takes time, but with the help of people like Phil Jones, who was playing without having even trained, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, with these people it will not be an impossible mission but a possible mission."

Shaw was understood to have a problem with the leg that he broke during last year's Champions League group game away to PSV in September.

Speaking ahead of England's World Cup qualifier with Scotland this Friday, Southgate acknowledged that while the defender may still be recovering from the physical and psychological effects of breaking his leg in two places, he does appear to have a "medical issue".

"If Shaw wasn’t fit to play – and he was with us in September under Sam [Allardyce] and was feeling problems with the leg back then – there's clearly something. After an injury as severe as that we have to handle that with care.

"Luke has [played] but we've known he has had ongoing difficulties coming back from a very serious injury. If they had played and we weren’t at least having a look at them, it would be different.

"But if they haven’t played, there’s obviously something wrong. Obviously it’s a difficult one because I don’t know the reason for the comments José’s made."

England can make it three wins from their opening four matches of the campaign and retain their grip on top spot in Group F. Scotland, meanwhile, could only manage a draw against Lithuania to follow their 5-1 win over Malta and were beaten 3-0 by Slovakia last month.

Southgate continues in his interim period at England manager after a 2-0 win over Malta in a subdued performance at Wembley and a scoreless draw away to Slovenia.