Gareth Southgate says Chelsea star Reece James asked not to be called up for England duty

Southgate has named his final England squad of 2023.

Gareth Southgate says Chelsea star Reece James asked not to be called up for England duty
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Reece James has only just recovered from a hamstring injury (Photo: Getty)

Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Reece James asked not to be called up for England as the Chelsea captain continues his recovery from injury.

On Thursday, Southgate named his Three Lions squad for the final two international fixtures of the year against Malta and North Macedonia.

With England already qualified for Euro 2024 it was possible that the manager might experiment a little with his squad but predictably he has stuck with the players he knows well.

When fit, James has been a regular for his country since his debut in 2020, though injury issues mean he has made just one international appearance this year.

Having missed much of the season with a hamstring injury, the right-back recently returned to the pitch, featuring in their last four games and starting Monday night’s 4-1 win at Tottenham.

It was thought that he could therefore return to the England squad and Southgate has confirmed that was the plan – but the player has had other ideas.

‘There is [depth], I was hoping to call up Reece James but he doesn’t feel he’s quite ready,’ he said in his press conference.

‘I understand that, he’s had a long path back from a number of injuries. He’s probably a bit cautious in that respect, but I can understand why.

‘We have got options, but there aren’t perhaps the experienced options we might have in other areas of the pitch.

‘Some of the younger full-backs are doing well – Tino Livramento has done well in his games for Newcastle, but being with the U21s is the right thing for him at the moment as well.’

There is plenty of competition for the right-back spot, with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold, however the latter two have more often been deployed at left-back and centre-midfield in recent times.

James was part of the England team to reach the final of Euro 2020, but was left out for last year’s World Cup, a decision the 23-year-old did not agree with.

More to follow…

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