Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Picture highlights
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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel’s surprised reaction to Reece James’ England call-up has been justified after the latter withdrew from Gareth Southgate’s squad on Monday. Ben Chilwell has replaced James amid an ongoing ankle injury suffered in last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City.
England confirmed James’ withdrawal and an exciting call-up for ex-Chelsea star Tammy Abraham via an official statement on Monday afternoon.
It read: “Ben Chilwell and Tammy Abraham have been added to the England squad for this month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
“All players will report to St. George’s Park on Tuesday apart from Reece James, who is ruled out through injury.
“The Three Lions face Andorra away on Saturday 9 October (7:45pm kick-off) before hosting Hungary at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Tuesday 12 October (7:45pm kick-off).”
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James limped off in the 29th minute of Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Man City at Stamford Bridge last season.
He wasn’t in Tuchel’s squads for the 1-0 loss at Juventus in midweek and 3-1 win over Southampton on Saturday.
So his inclusion in Southgate’s latest squad was a surprise to many, none more so than the Chelsea manager.
After the announcement, the German boss jokingly expressed his bemusement over James’ involvement in a press conference.
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He told reporters: “You would assume [I gave James my blessing to be involved], 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.”
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Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta stepped in for James at right-wing-back in Saturday’s victory of Southampton.
The 32-year-old performed admirably, assisting Timo Werner’s first Premier League goal of the season, as Tuchel’s side rocketed to the top of the table after seven games.
With competition fierce to regularly feature for the European champions, James will be fighting to return to action as soon as possible.
Tuchel has sufficient back-up, though, as he looks to add the Premier League title to his growing list of major trophies.
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