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Recce James has been handed over a devastating news ahead of the World Cup 2022. England manager Gareth Southgate has been in touch with the 22-year-old to convey the information that he would not be part of the final 26-man squad. The Chelsea right-back has been undergoing treatment to recover from a knee injury. Just a few days ago, the England FA and the medical team at Chelsea FC were quite confident of James being fit for the World Cup after making a much faster recovery than expected.
Injury Blow for James
The defender suffered a knee injury in the Champions League game against AC Milan a month ago. He has been in Dubai – along with his teammate Wesley Fofana – to seek specialist treatment in a bid to quickly from the injury problem. A scan performed yesterday appeared to increase the belief that the defender will be back in time for the status. Yet, Southgate seems to have made the decision to leave out James as it was turning out to be a risky call for the national team.
Even though James has been back on the grass to resume jogging this week, the World Cup may come a little too soon in terms of hitting his peak fitness levels once again. Just before the injury, James has been performing exceptionally well and he has been one of the top players in the Premier League so far this season.
Southgate is expected to unveil England’s final 26-man squad on November 10. England will begin their World Cup campaign with a game against Iran on November 21 followed by a match against the USA on 25th. The final group game for England will be against Wales on November 29.
Options for Southgate
The absence of James from the England squad is a huge boost for the likes of Trent Alexander Arnold. The Liverpool defender may not be the first choice when James is around, but he might be the next best option for the Three Lions especially considering that Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is also struggling with injuries. Newcastle defender Kieran Trippier is also a fine alternative in the right wing-back positions. Meanwhile, an out-of-the-box option for Southgate might be Arsenal defender Ben White. Despite being a centre-back by trade, Ben White has been quite good for Arsenal in the right-back spots this season.
Even with the availability of several capable individuals, Southgate will undoubtedly be under a great deal of pressure with the national team’s defence, which has plenty of concerns. Apart from James, Ben Chilwell has also picked up an injury that has ruled him out of World Cup action.
Chilwell was expected to be the first-choice left-back with Manchester United’s Luke Shaw acting as a backup. However, there are injury concerns to a number of players who were expected to act as a backup. For example, Southampton defender Kyle Walker-Peters is also unavailable because of an injury. One option for Southgate will be to opt for Bukayo Saka in a defensive position.