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Reece James: Chelsea defender’s England selection could have been deemed ‘arrogant’, says Southgate

Reece James: Chelsea defender’s England selection could have been deemed ‘arrogant’, says Southgate

Gareth Southgate has explained the decision to leave Reece James out of his World Cup squad and said there were “too many unknowns” in his recovery from a knee injury.

Southgate has said it was a “very difficult call” to leave James out of his final 26-man squad for Qatar after the Chelsea defender suffered an injury against AC Milan last month.

James had been doing everything to be get fit and told Southgate he believed he could be ready in time for England’s second group game against the United States on November 25.

But Southgate did not think James would have been fit until the knockouts and said selecting a player who could not play in the group stage would be “deemed arrogant in some circles”.

The England manager did not feel he could risk James, with Kyle Walker also not fully fit after undergoing groin surgery.

Chelsea defender Reece James has been left out of England‘s World Cup squad for Qatar (Getty Images)
Chelsea defender Reece James has been left out of England‘s World Cup squad for Qatar (Getty Images)

Explaining his decision to leave out James, Southgate said: “We had to make a very difficult call with Reece, who is a fantastic player.

“But he was not going to be available, if everything went perfectly, until the latter stages of the tournament, and there were too many unknowns for us on that road to recovery.

“Also I do not think we can take a player who is not available for the group stage, that would be deemed arrogant in some circles.

“But then if everything went well and he was available, then we would be dropping him into a quarter-final after eight weeks out, and that would be really demanding. A tough call. Kyle is a long way ahead of that and is progressing really well.”