Reece James confident of England World Cup chance with Chelsea defender ahead of schedule in injury recovery

Reece James confident of England World Cup chance with Chelsea defender ahead of schedule in injury recovery

Chelsea defender Reece James will urge Gareth Southgate to pick him in the England squad for the World Cup even if he is likely to miss the start of the tournament.

The right-back is in a race to prove his fitness after suffering a knee injury but he has told friends he is confident he will be on the plane to Qatar.

James was due to be in a knee brace for four weeks but he is slightly ahead of schedule and now using it less and less.

He was initially ruled out for eight weeks after he sustained a knee injury against AC Milan on October 11 which plunged his World Cup chances into doubt. But the 22-year-old has always been a quick healer and is doing everything to be fit.

James this week flew to Dubai to continue his rehabilitation alongside a member of the Chelsea medical department. He is predominantly working in the gym and pool, and Chelsea are sending ongoing reports to the FA about his fitness and knee stability.

Chelsea right-back Reece James is determined to play some part for England in Qatar (The FA via Getty Images)
Chelsea right-back Reece James is determined to play some part for England in Qatar (The FA via Getty Images)

Southgate has also had a brief phone call with James but has not put any pressure on the defender to force his recovery.

England kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21 and Southgate is due to name his 26-man squad for Qatar next Thursday.

Southgate has selected players with fitness issues for major tournaments in the past, notably Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson at Euro 2020 despite neither being fully fit.

His decision on whether to pick James in the hope he will be fit for the latter stages of the World Cup could be impacted by Kyle Walker, who is recovering from groin surgery.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has said Walker is “optimistic” about his World Cup chances but Southgate could be reluctant to pick two right-sided defenders with fitness concerns.