The manager of Chelsea football club, Thomas Tuchel, has advised that his right-back, Reece James should pull out of Gareth Southgate’s squad due to the player’s lack of fitness.
Recall that James has been struggling with a series of fitness issues in most parts of the 2021-2022 season. He returned from a hamstring injury earlier this year and played in Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Burnley on March 5.
The 22-year-old defender got injured again in the Premier League game on March 13 in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Newcastle United.
So far in 2022, Reece James is yet to play up to 150 minutes of Premier League football due to fitness issues. In the 29 Premier League games that Chelsea had played this season, Reece James managed to play 17 of the games.
James’ fitness issues forced him to miss Chelsea’s second leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 against Lille on March 16. In his absence, Chelsea won 2-1 and knocked out the French club from the competition 4-1 on aggregate.
The England international also missed Chelsea’s FA Cup quarter-final game against Middlesbrough on Sunday, March 19. In his absence, Chelsea won 2-0 to qualify for the semis.
Despite James’ struggles, England head coach, Gareth Southgate decided to include him in the squad that will play friendly games against Switzerland and Ivory Coast later this month.
In his reaction to Southgate’s decision to invite Reece James, Thomas Tuchel recommended that the English left-back should withdraw from the squad.
“The recommendation is that he does not go”, the German tactician insisted. “He is still in individual training, otherwise we would have brought him to Lille and we would have brought him here for sure.
“There is no doubt about it. He needs one more week of rehabilitation and I think we can provide this much better. It is not the job of the national team to do this.”
Reece James has played 26 games in all competitions this season in which he scored 6 goals and provided 7 assists.
Based on the contract the Chelsea academy product signed with the club in 2021, Reece James is earning £3,016,000 per year at the club. His weekly take-home is £58,000. James’ contract with Chelsea will expire on June 30, 2025.
If Reece James withdraw from England’s squad, the team might have a crisis in the right-back position
The right-back position of the Three Lions of England used to be the most competitive in the team. Before now, coach Gareth Southgate had the option of selecting Kyle Walker of Manchester City, Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United, Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool, or Reece James of Chelsea for the role. But going into the March international break, all the major options for the role are suffering one fitness issue or the other.
For instance, Walker was not selected for the March international break for an undisclosed reason; Alexander-Arnold was not included due to fitness issues; Trippier is also out due to fitness issues.
Hence, if Reece James obeys coach Thomas Tuchel’s recommendation to withdraw from the squad, coach Southgate would be left with no right-back options.
If that happens, the coach would have no choice but to select a right-back from England’s under-21 team for the March international break.
Chelsea knock out Middlesbrough in FA Cup quarter-final
Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech helped Chelsea to knock out giants slayers Middlesbrough from this season’s FA Cup campaign.
Recall that Middlesbrough knocked out Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to get to the quarter-final stage of the competition.
They were expected to beat Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium where they had 30,000 home fans cheering them for 90 minutes. But Chelsea proved to be too good for them.
Note that Chelsea had less than 700 fans in the stadium due to the UK’s sanction on the club’s owner Roman Abramovich which prevented the club from selling tickets.
Despite not having enough fans at the stadium, Thomas Tuchel and his boys went on to beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to qualify for the FA Cup semi-finals.