Injured Reece James sets new return date after World Cup blow as Chelsea plan Middle East friendly

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Devastated Chelsea defender Reece James is confident he will be fit when the Premier League resumes after being left out of England’s World Cup squad.

The 22-year-old was told by Gareth Southgate in a phone call on Tuesday night that he would not make the 26-man party travelling to Qatar. The England manager explained how he can’t take a risk on James, who is recovering from a knee injury, as he prepares to announce his squad tomorrow afternoon.

James will now switch focus to making Chelsea’s first match after the World Cup in late December. He had previously been described as ‘optimistic’ about his chances of recovery in time for the Qatar tournament and just hours before Southgate’s call began running on grass for the first time since after coming off injured against AC Milan on October 11.

James has been in Dubai with a member of Chelsea’s medical staff to speed up his recovery. The hope had been that he could join Southgate’s squad, with regular reports on his progress sent to the FA’s medical department.

Chelsea will give holidays to players and coaching staff after their upcoming matches away at Manchester City and Newcastle this week.

James will continue his recovery in that period but could be ready for non-contact training at the club’s warm-weather training camp that follows in Abu Dhabi. Chelsea are hoping to play a match in the Middle East while they rebuild their player’s fitness for the second half of the season.

If they win away at Man City tonight, they will play the fourth round of the Carabao Cup in the week commencing December 19. James could make that match or, should they get knocked out of the cup, the following Premier League match on December 27 against Bournemouth.

Reece James will not be part of England’s World Cup squad. (The FA via Getty Images)
Reece James will not be part of England’s World Cup squad. (The FA via Getty Images)

He joins a sizeable group of injured players at the club's training base at Cobham with Ben Chilwell, N'Golo Kante, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Wesley Fofana all on the sidelines until after the World Cup.

Blues manager Graham Potter has seen the west Londoners decline without James in recent weeks, winning just three of their seven matches in that time.