He could play water polo – Tuchel bemused as England call up injured James

James is limited to training in the pool due to his ankle problem.

Nick Purewal
Friday 01 October 2021 15:42
Thomas Tuchel says Reece James could only play water polo (Mike Egerton/Adam Davy/PA)
Thomas Tuchel says Reece James could only play water polo (Mike Egerton/Adam Davy/PA)

Thomas Tuchel has revealed his bemusement at Gareth Southgate naming Reece James in his England squad, insisting the Chelsea full-back will miss the upcoming internationals through injury.

James hobbled out of Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Manchester City last weekend with an ankle injury.

And now Blues boss Tuchel has joked that the 21-year-old could only manage water polo given he is limited to training in the pool due to his ankle problem.

Thomas Tuchel, left, has revealed his surprise at Reece James’ inclusion in the England squad (Adam Davy/PA)

James was called up to the England squad for next week’s World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

But now Tuchel has insisted the Chelsea academy graduate will not be fit in time, also ruling him out of Saturday’s Stamford Bridge clash with Southampton.

When asked if James had been named in the England squad with his blessing, Tuchel replied: “You would assume so, no? But when I saw it I thought that maybe Reece goes with the water polo team for England, because right now he trains in the pool.

“So I was a bit surprised, but I understood that he was selected for the football team. So this will not happen because Reece is training in the pool right now.

“So my understanding, my last information is that he will not go. So that can only be a misunderstanding, nothing else.”

Tuchel suggested James could perhaps play water polo (Adam Davy/PA)

Chelsea will be itching to hit back to form and winning ways when hosting Southampton in Saturday’s Premier League clash.

The Blues have suffered consecutive 1-0 defeats, to Manchester City and at Juventus, with boss Tuchel demanding a raise in performance levels to get back on track.

Mason Mount was Chelsea’s other star named in the England squad and Tuchel confirmed the forward has now shaken off his recent knock.

“Mason is in the squad, he’s back; it was not a long injury, a minor injury,” said Tuchel.

“We’re happy that he’s back for us and it’s obviously a given that he’s nominated (for England).

Mason Mount, pictured, is fit to return for Chelsea after a minor injury (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He’s happy to be nominated and will give everything to do his best for the England squad.”

Mount’s absence from Chelsea’s two losses has raised questions of the size of the hole in the Blues’ set-up when the hard-working forward is unavailable.

Tuchel admitted Chelsea have missed his energy, but refused to accept a drop in performances due to injuries.

“He had a bit of a rough half at Tottenham and we took him out, and everybody was so highly speaking about us in the second-half and he was not on the pitch,” said Tuchel.

“And suddenly Mason’s been missing and now he’s the reason. It’s not on single players.

“Of course we want to have Mason, because we know what energy he gives and of course we miss him. But we cannot start reducing our performances to look at the players who are missing.

N’Golo Kante, pictured, continues to self isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Do we miss NG? Of course, every team in the world misses N’Golo Kante. Do we miss Mason if he is on his best? Of course, that’s why he’s a top player.

“Do we miss Reece James? Yes of course, and still there would be a selection to take and we can only start with 11 players.

“Do we miss Christian Pulisic? Of course we miss sprints and intensity, but it needs to be on the best level, and it needs to be a good fit.

“We have a squad, and we have a duty, me as a coach, to find solutions. And it’s possible to win games without Mason Mount, and hopefully he knows how much I respect him, how much I love him, and how much I want him to be in the team.

“But if he’s injured we need to win games without him, and it’s exactly the same with N’Golo, Christian Pulisic and Reece James.”

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