April 22, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino calls for patience with Reece James, despite England's hopes

insists Mauricio Pochettino Reece James He will not be in a rush to return from the hamstring injury that disrupted his season, even if a late return costs him a place in England's Euro 2024 squad.

The club captain has made just eight Premier League appearances this season and is in danger of missing a second international tournament in as many years, after being ruled out of the 2022 World Cup with a knee problem.

He made just 16 league appearances last season when a combination of knee and hamstring injuries kept him on the sidelines for club and country.

After they were forced to exit during a 1-1 draw in August with… Liverpool He has had worse luck this term.

The 24-year-old, who has made just one appearance in his Chelsea career in 30 league games in a single season, teased on social media this week that a “comeback is coming” and has returned to the training pitch, although he is working separately from his squad. . -comrades.

However, with his history of recurring fitness issues, Pochettino was understandably cautious about his reintroduction and was adamant that he would not be in a rush to return for the sake of his international place.

“I can't say when that will be possible,” the Argentine said. “His goal and our goal is for him to be fit, happy and healthy. Then we will see whether he can go to the Euros or not, prepare for next season or play before we finish this season.

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“The most important thing now is to build his confidence, his physical condition, to get all the good feelings back.

“The goal is not to try to play the last five games or in the European Championship or in pre-season. The goal is to build his confidence again and feel strong, and then start playing when he feels strong and can deal with the competition again.

Despite establishing himself as a key figure for Chelsea when fit, James has so far featured in just one major tournament, starting Gareth Southgate's side in their goalless draw with Scotland at Euro 2020.

He seemed ready to be a member of the team The State of Qatar Until he suffered a knee injury in the Champions League match against Italian club Milan He ruined his chances.

“I did not speak to (Southgate),” Pochettino said. “But we spoke to people involved in the (FA), people in the medical field, people in the performance field.

“It's not about, 'Now I can get on the field, I can play.' We have to make sure we can go to the competition and that he can feel strong and can forget everything that happened in the past.

James will be one of seven players unavailable against Pochettino at Brentford on Saturday.

Injuries have severely disrupted seasons Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lafia, Leslie Ugochukwu And Carne Chukwuemekawhile Wesley Fofana He will likely have to miss the entire campaign.

The manager expressed his frustration at the impact of injuries in his first season in charge.

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“When you start the season, you have the idea of ​​the potential of the team in your head,” he said. “When you think of Nkunku, Reece, (Ben) Chilwell or Fofana, Lafia, (Moises) Caicedo, you imagine players in the best place, with all their potential.

“Then when circumstances happen, of course it's about translating reality. If you come back and say 'No, I said we can play to win the Premier League' – when you see the potential you have with the team, then of course that is.

“But with the circumstances, the reality is, we had 10 or 12 players out every week. “It will affect the team’s performance.”