Wednesday night’s performance for Chelsea in the 3-0 win against AC Milan consolidated the fact that on current form, Reece James is nailed on to start ahead of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right side of defence for Gareth Southgate and England in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
However, a certain development in the England squad in the most recent hours could have change the 22-year-old’s brief in Southgate’s Three Lions set-up. As per various outlets, Man City’s Kyle Walker has gone under the knife for a groin issue which required surgery.
As a result, Walker’s chances of making the World Cup squad have significantly reduced. One man’s despair is another man’s fortune, and all of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Newcastle’s Kyle Trippier and Arsenal’s Ben White will hope their starting chances increase as a result.
With the pace of the 32-year-old potentially missing from this back-five system, this may prompt Southgate to move the dangerous attacking threat of James to right-centre-back, which could limit some of his qualities.
Chelsea’s man of the match against Milan produced not only a goal for himself but also helped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang net in this crucial game week 3 fixture of this season’s UEFA Champions League group stages.
“For me he’s the best,” Aubameyang told reporters after the game. “For me he’s the best in the world at the moment. I think he’s doing an amazing job and you could see that today; a goal and an assist – I think he’s on top form.”
His opponent for the night and Blues transfer target Rafael Leao echoed a similar sentiment after the match. Leao himself had bright sparks himself amid links to the Blues for next summer, with a deal for Christopher Nkunku to join next season seemingly imminent.
Nevertheless, even if the 24-year-old failed to quite live up to the billing, he himself admitted that James was one of the ‘toughest’ he has faced in his career to date in the full-back/wing-back position.
“James is a good player, he was all over me and everywhere at the same time, he timed his runs very fine,” Leao said afterwards to somtosport.com. “I hardly talk about opposing players but this guy is actually the toughest I have faced I think. He scored a goal too against us and that’s something you don’t get from every defender.
“We just have to focus and finish in a good position now cause the competition was never expected to be easy. We slipped and we won’t let that hold us back, we will work harder for the next games.”
Chelsea fans: Should Gareth Southgate move Reece James into the right-centre-back position for the Qatar World Cup with the Kyle Walker injury news in mind? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!