Reece James had to watch from home as England played at the 2022 World Cup. Had it not been for injury, the 23-year-old would have been a key figure for Gareth Southgate’s team in Qatar. However, a knee injury sidelined James for the tournament and now he faces another period on the sidelines after the resumption of the Premier
James had played only 50 minutes of the Boxing Day fixture against Bournemouth when he signalled to the Stamford Bridge that he couldn’t continue. While it might be too early for a solid diagnosis on the right back’s fitness, Graham Potter voiced concern immediately after the match that James could be out for some time.
“It’s obviously the same area, so we are concerned,” said the Chelsea manager. “We will have to wait for the next 24-48 hours. “There was a sort of chop and he felt something there. We will have to see the extent of it. At the moment we are just at a stage of hoping it isn’t as bad and keeping our fingers crossed.”
It was only a matter of months ago that James signed a new six-year contract extension to keep him at the club until 2028. Trent Alexander-Arnold is considered by some to be the best English full back of his generation, but it could be strongly argued that James is more rounded in his game – he is just as good defending his own goal and attacking the opposition’s.
“Reece is a world-class player,” said Potter after the right back’s latest injury setback. “You see it from the outside, but it’s not until you work with him that you realise how good he is. He’s an incredible player. He would fit into any team in the world. He can play in any team in the world, so any team would miss him.”
Despite James’ obvious quality, Potter might have no choice but to consider signing a new right back to protect against the 23-year-old’s patchy injury record. This is where Denzel Dumfries could be targeted by Chelsea following an impressive 2022 World Cup campaign for the Netherlands.
This isn’t the first time Chelsea have been linked with a high-calibre right back with James already at the club. Sergino Dest was reportedly on their radar while Barcelona were looking to move on the USA international and Dumfries is now another target according to recent reports. He could make the switch from Inter in the January window.
Of course, it’s possible Potter could use Dumfries and James in the same lineup with the former as a wing back and the latter on the right side of a back three. The former Brighton boss is still getting to grips with his squad at Stamford Bridge and James’ latest injury has given him one more thing to consider.