England boss Gareth Southgate revealed he reluctantly left Chelsea captain Reece James out of his latest England squad.
The right-back has suffered multiple injury set-backs over the past 12 months and made his first start for the Blues since the opening day of the season, in Monday’s 4-1 win at Tottenham.
James missed last year’s World Cup in Qatar after suffering a knee injury in the build up and it appears Southgate doesn’t want to take any risks with the 23-year-old.
Ahead of the Three Lions final two Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia next week, the England boss confirmed he took the Chelsea star’s feelings into consideration when deciding whether or not to include him.
“I was hoping to call up Reece James, “ he told reporters on Thursday. “He doesn’t feel he’s quite ready and I understand that.”
James’ injury-hit year is likely to be the reason behind his decision not to join up with the England squad.
The Chelsea man was willing to put his body on the line although nursing a knee injury, so he could be a part of last year’s World Cup squad.
James took to Instagram weeks before the tournament’s kick-off claiming he was not giving up on his World Cup dream despite being sidelined with an injury picked up in a Champions League tie against AC Milan.
Since then, James has suffered further issues to his knee, multiple hamstring complaints and a thigh injury resulting in him missing a total 26 games for Chelsea since recovering form his World Cup-ending injury.
The decision for James not to link up with England will be music to the ears of Mauricio Pochettino’s slowly-improving Chelsea side who are beginning to see their wounded stars return to action.
Buoyed by the Blues’ thrashing of Spurs, James could be in line to start Chelsea’s crunch Premier League clash against Manchester City on Sunday before entering into a two-week international break.