Arsenal legend, turned pundit Paul Merson has blasted Gareth Southgate for omitting Reece James From England World Cup squad.
Paul Merson said this in his column on for Daily Star, hitting out on Gareth Southgate for omitting the highly-rated Chelsea right-back.
Gareth Southgate announced his final World Cup squad with some controversial omissions. The likes of Jarrow Bowen, Ivan Toney, and Tammy Abraham have been omitted from the squad despite being on prolific form for their clubs.
Reece James was another top favorite to make Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad but was finally ruled out due to injury.
Reece James picked up a knee injury in Chelsea’s Champions League game against AC Milan at the San Siro.
His injury was of great concern to the FA, who berated the handling of the injury by Chelsea’s medical staff with the World Cup fast approaching.
Gareth Southgate expressed his concern over Reece James’ injury, but Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold, who recently returned from injury, was another alternative.
Reece James was optimistic about making Gareth Southgate’s World Cup and was racing and training hard against time to break into the team.
However, Gareth Southgate reportedly phoned the youngster of his resolve not to gamble by picking him with injury to the tournament.
Reece James was left out of the Three Lions squad, while Southgate picked Alexander Arnold as his replacement.
Former Arsenal player and pundit Paul Merson has criticized Gareth Southgate for not including the injured defender in the squad when he was nearing recovery.
According to Merson, England cannot win the World Cup without Reece James, who would have been helpful for the team in the later stages of the competition.
The 54-year-old Arsenal legend said Gareth Southgate would pick Harry Kane even though he was injured.
“If it was Kane, they would say ‘right we’ll take him and use him after the group stages”, Merson said. “We aren’t going to win the World Cup without having James in the team.”
Merson said Reece James is the best player in the current England team and should not have been left out by Southgate despite the injury.
He slammed Southgate for picking Alexander-Arnold instead, saying the Liverpool defender will be a flop in the knockout stages, when the team comes up against bigger opponents.
In his opinion, Reece James, who was optimistic and more likely to recover in a few weeks, would have been more useful at the knockout stage against more formidable opponents.
Gareth Southgate’s defensive choices are still questionable, especially with Manchester United duo Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw in the squad.
The two defenders have struggled for a starting lineup in Manchester United after the Red Devils signed the likes of Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez.
Southgate has maintained an utmost faith in the former Leicester City defenders as a priority center-back despite his many blunders.
Luke Shaw also made it to the squad despite losing his place in the starting lineup Under Erik Ten Hag.
England’s World Cup campaign, without Reece James, begins on Monday November 21 against Iran, before other group stage games against the USA and Wales.