Reece James puts England place in jeopardy with call-up snub, warns Gareth Southgate
'He’s only got one more squad before the Euros...'
Gareth Southgate has warned Reece James that he has taken a risk by opting out of the latest England squad, reminding the Chelsea captain that there is only one more international break before Euro 2024.
The 23-year-old has struggled with injuries throughout his young career so far and has been out recently with a knee problem.
He is fit again now and started in Chelsea’s win over Tottenham on Monday night, but chose not to accept a call-up to the England squad to face Malta and North Macedonia in order to continue rebuilding full fitness.
Southgate made it clear that he is not blaming the right-back for trying to look after his own condition, but would not hide that James has put himself at risk.
England are very well stocked at right-back, with the likes of Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier all competing with James and the Chelsea man may only have friendlies against Brazil and Belgium in March to earn his spot back.
‘I was hoping to call up Reece James but he doesn’t feel he’s quite ready,’ said Southgate at a press conference on Thursday. ‘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.
‘There is (a lot of talent ahead of James) and that’s the risk. He’s only got one more squad before the Euros. So he knows that. We’ve got belief in what he can do.
‘We did discuss (reporting for duty for team meetings) and he was very keen to make clear, “Look I don’t want you to think I don’t want to be there”.
‘We had a really good long conversation and exchange of messages after that as well. But I’m very understanding. His injury record, you can see the number of matches and the different phases (he has missed). So we are all conscious that we want to have a fit Reece that can play consecutive games.
‘Physical reliability is going to be really important. I think we will always manage a player as well as we can but there is a reality around his training at the moment. He plays and there’s a couple of days’ recovery.
‘There’s a little bit more angst from his side. I totally get that. We would have loved to have him with us, don’t get me wrong. But I’m perfectly calm with the conversation.’
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