Reece James admits he has taken up three different positions during England training as the Chelsea defender waits to learn what role he could play under Gareth Southgate at Euro 2020.
James was one of four right-backs initially named in Southgate’s 26-man squad before Trent Alexander-Arnold withdrew through injury.
Ben White, predominantly a centre-back, came in to replace Alexander-Arnold, meaning James’ main competition for right-sided defensive roles remains Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker.
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Amid reports Southgate could switch to three at the back for their Group D opener against Croatia on Sunday, James said he has played at centre-back, right-back and wing-back during training.
“[I’ve trained in] probably the positions you can guess,” James said. “Wing-back, centre-back, right-back. I’ve played all three so far, so I don’t really know what’s going to happen or what position I might feature in.”
He added: “I played right-side centre-back many times coming throughout the academy so the position wasn’t new to me.
“It’s much different to wing-back, you can’t really go forward. Wing-back you have the license to push on and join in attacks, but right side of a three you’re kind of limited to where you can go and what you can do.”
James also revealed he speaks to former England left-back Ashley Cole almost every week, with the ex-Chelsea defender part of the youth set-up at the club.
“He’s probably one of the best left-backs to play the game as well,” James said. “Even though he was a left-back the position is basically the same. He helps me a lot.”
James also addressed the difficultly of forcing his way into Thomas Tuchel’s plans having been a regular starter under former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
“At the start of the season we had Frank Lampard. I was very lucky to play the majority of the games under him, but when our new manager came in, our style of play changed and formation changed as well,” James said.
“The first few games I found myself out the team and not playing so that was quite difficult to deal with, but I had to adapt and learn. It’s hard when a new manager comes in. I’ve never had it before so it was a learning curve for me as well.”
James is joined by Chelsea team-mates Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount in Southgate’s squad, but he says they have remained “humble” having won the Champions League final against a Manchester City side that featured Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, John Stones and Walker.
James added: “Not many people win the Champions League. I knew coming here we’d just played against City, and they’re not going to be happy with the result, so we had to be humble with it. We couldn’t boast and rub it in. We just had to accept it, we know we won. Now we’re here we’re together as a team. We need to fight together.”
And when asked which non-English Chelsea team-mate he would like to line-up alongside at international level, James simply replied “N’Golo Kante” while smiling.
When pressed on why, James added: “He’s one player but he covers three players. He runs so much and works so hard. He’s such a key player in our team.”
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