Potter backs James and Chilwell to recover from World Cup disappointment

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Chelsea boss Graham Potter believes Reece James and Ben Chilwell will react well to the disappointment of missing out on England's squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

James sustained a knee injury in a Champions League game against Milan last month, and an estimated eight-week timescale for his recovery immediately threw his World Cup hopes into doubt.

The right-back initially vowed to do everything in his power to feature, but Gareth Southgate said there were simply "too many unknowns" concerning James' recovery as he left him out of the Three Lions' 26-man squad.

Fellow Blues full-back Chilwell will also miss the tournament after suffering a hamstring injury, and while Potter says the duo are understandably down, he believes they will bounce back.

"It's a natural reaction, they're disappointed. Reece thought he would be close and did everything he could to give himself a chance, but in the end, he fell a little bit short," Potter said on Friday.

"Obviously, I can understand the decision and understand Reece's frustration and disappointment. We just have to focus on the rehab on try to get them back as soon as we can.

"It's normal, World Cups don't come around very often and to miss them is disappointing, but they're strong characters. They'll be fine."

After Saturday's trip to Newcastle United, Chelsea are not in action until they face Bournemouth in the Premier League on December 27 – having been eliminated from the EFL Cup in midweek – and Potter hopes to use that break to nurse his injured stars back to fitness.

"If you're going to look at the positives, it's a time to do the rehab as thoroughly as possible without a timescale hanging over them," Potter said. "Hopefully, we have them when we restart and they're fit, strong and well.

"I wouldn't say I'm really looking forward to it, but we have to use it as what it is, and it's an opportunity to take stock.

"It's been incredibly intense, we've learned a lot. It's a chance to reflect. It would be stupid of me not to use that time to rejuvenate, to recover and to improve."

Midfielder Conor Gallagher was included in England's squad after making 17 appearances for Chelsea this season, and Potter believes he deserves it after breaking into the Blues' first team.

Asked if Gallagher's selection was a surprise, Potter said: "It's not something I really gave too much thought, to be honest; it's just nice for us and great for Conor. He's going to have a really positive experience, I think.

"He's worked really hard, and he's a fantastic person, so it's nice. It's a fantastic honour for him, everyone is really pleased.

"It's a nice story, he's been out on loan and come through the club, so to get the chance to play at the World Cup is great news for him."