Gareth Southgate warns Chelsea’s Reece James after the 23-year-old pulled out of the last England team, indicating a risk to his Euro 2024 desires. Despite returning to the field in Chelsea’s victory against Tottenham, James chose fitness recovery over international action.
Southgate shows the competitive scenario at right-back for the national team, highlighting the wealth of quality with Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Kieran Trippier in contention, while recognizing James’ commitment to his well-being.
‘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.’
Southgate, while recognizing the importance of individual fitness management, carefully expresses the potential consequences of James’ decision, suggesting the limited prospects for a comeback with only friendlies against Brazil and Belgium on the horizon in March.
As Euro 2024 gets closer, the Chelsea captain, no stranger to injury challenges, must strike a careful balance between personal fitness and national team duties. Southgate’s caution serves as a reminder that competition for a spot in the squad is hard and every opportunity must be capitalized on correctly.
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