Reece James gives injury update as Chelsea star refuses to give up on World Cup dream

Reece James gives injury update as Chelsea star refuses to give up on World Cup dream
Reece James is likely to miss this year’s World Cup in Qatar after picking up a knee injury in Chelsea’s 2-0 win against AC Milan at the San Siro earlier this month

Reece James is refusing to give up on his World Cup dream

Reece James aims to start running again in a swimming pool over the “coming days”, as the injured Chelsea defender refuses to give up on his World Cup dream.

James, 22, is expected to miss the tournament in Qatar after suffering a knee injury against AC Milan earlier this month. The World Cup starts on November 20, with England’s opening game against Iran taking place at the Khalifa International Stadium the next day.

James would be a certain pick for the Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad if fit. The England boss is also sweating on the fitness of another right-back in Kyle Walker, who underwent surgery on groin injury earlier this month. It is hoped Walker will make the squad.

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“I will try and not rule myself out,” James told The Sun. “It is still slow and in the early stages. I have been in rehab for two weeks, so I am still taking it day-by-day. The Chelsea medical staff have not given me a percentage of my chance of being back for the World Cup.

“It is down to how I feel closer to the time and how stable it is… I am trying to be positive. I am not not sure how long this injury will take. I am not in pain. But if I try to speed it up, it might be a bit of a risk. I am trying hard every day to improve and make it right.”

James, who can also play on the right of a back three, has become an important player for England since making his senior debut two years ago. He’s won 15 caps under Southgate to date and was part of the squad that reached the final of Euro 2020 in July 2021.

The Chelsea academy graduate has established himself as one of the best right-backs in Europe since returning from a loan spell at Wigan in the summer of 2019. He’s played 134 games for the Blues and won three trophies – including the Champions League.

James added: “I don’t know when I will be able to run again… You don’t go from walking to running. That is a difficult thing about injuries – you have to do it in stages, so I have to start running in the pool first. Hopefully, this will be in the coming days.”

As well as James and Walker, Southgate is also sweating over Kalvin Phillips’ fitness. The Manchester City midfielder is recovering from a shoulder injury and is not expected to play for City again before the World Cup, but should be fit in time for the tournament.

“They are optimistic and they are in touch with the national team,” said City manager Pep Guardiola when asked for an update on Walker and Phillips on Friday. “Hopefully they will be OK to be selected, but it is up to the national team.”

Southgate received two injury boosts during the midweek European fixtures when John Stones and Harry Maguire both made their comebacks from injury. The two defenders are expected to be part of England’s squad for the tournament.

Southgate will be anxious over the coming days, as several England players still have five club fixtures to fulfil before the World Cup starts

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