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Thomas Tuchel rules Reece James out of England World Cup qualifiers
02/10/2021 10:54:10

Thomas Tuchel has joked he thought Gareth Southgate must have called up Reece James for England’s water polo team after confirming the full-back is injured.

The Chelsea right-back limped out of the defeat to Manchester City with an ankle injury and will definitely miss Saturday’s clash against Southampton.

However, this did not stop Southgate from calling up the 21-year-old up to the Three Lions squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

Tuchel insists James will not be able to play for his country in the ensuing week, joking he can only represent England if he remains in the pool.

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.”

The defeat to City was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League, with Tuchel demanding a response from the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

Mason Mount has played through the pain barrier for his club, earning an international call-up in the process, but the Chelsea boss refused to blame just the loss of the midfielder for the drop in standards.

“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.

“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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