Thomas Tuchel says Reece James should not join up with England due to his current injury issue. If he does pull out, which right-back could replace him?
The Chelsea defender was not part of the squad that beat Middlesbrough 2-0 on Saturday in the FA Cup quarter-final due to injury.
James had returned to the Chelsea following a lengthy hamstring problem in the 4-0 win over Burnley earlier this month. However, he picked up another injury during the triumph at Turf Moor and missed Sunday’s win over Newcastle.
Despite the defender only playing 147 minutes of football this calendar year, England boss Gareth Southgate selected the right-back as part of his latest squad.
Tuchel had already raised doubts about James joining up with the England squad during his pre-match press conference and went a step further after the Middlesbrough game, saying that his defender should stay with Chelsea to continue his recovery.
He said: “The recommendation is that he does not go. 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.”
Southgate’s right-back problem
If James was to pull out of the latest squad, it would leave Southgate with none of his usual right-back options available for selection. Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and James have been fighting it out for the position in recent years but all have concerns ahead of two Wembley friendlies against Switzerland on March 26 and Ivory Coast on March 29.
Walker was not selected by Southgate but the England boss said the Manchester City right-back will return for the June internationals whilst Alexander-Arnold is facing weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
With Newcastle defender Trippier also missing with a broken foot, Southgate has gone from having an array of selection options down the right to being quite thin on the ground.
After Alexander-Arnold’s withdrawal, Sky Sports News reported that the FA were not considering calling up a replacement but that may change if James is to pull out.
The logical decision would be to call up one of the England under 21’s as a replacement as they are training at St George’s Park this week with the senior side.
Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, West Ham’s Ben Johnson, on-loan Nottingham Forest star Djed Spence and Southampton’s Tino Livramento all could provide an option for Southgate.
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Conor Coady (Wolves), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Roma), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
England’s confirmed 2022 fixtures
Saturday, March 26: Switzerland (h)
Tuesday, March 29: Ivory Coast (h)
June 4: Hungary (a)
June 8: Germany (a)
June 11: Italy (h)
June 14: Hungary (h)
September 23: Italy (a)
September 26: Germany (h)
World Cup 2022 starts in November: Dates, draw, schedule, kick-off times