Reece James’ loan spell at Wigan Athletic last season was a huge success, which is an understatement of great proportions. With Lampard’s arrival, his chances of featuring for Chelsea only increased, but an ankle injury and subsequent surgery delayed his senior debut.
After featuring in a couple of development squad games to shake off the rust, James was deemed fit to start his first competitive game for Chelsea on Wednesday, against Grimsby Town in the League Cup. And sure enough, the 19-year-old delivered an excellent all-around performance, notching two assists and a goal to cap off a Man of the Match outing.
Reece was obviously delighted by the win and the debut, not to mention the fact that opportunities are being provided for all the talented Chelsea youth.
“If you look at the past few years there probably isn’t as many who have played. Out there today there were four or five of us that got on the pitch. That’s great for the academy, it shows the level and standard there is very good.
“Just to play my first game here at the Bridge, in front of all the fans, that was probably the best occasion. When I was young I supported the club and still do now. I probably looked up to Drogba, Terry, Lampard. They were the main three leaders.
“It helped drive the team back then when I was a little kid, they were all winners. That was reflected in the trophies they won.”
Managerial instability and the win-now-at-all-costs policy of Chelsea have certainly paid repeated dividends over the past fifteen years, but that has come at expense of many of our own talented young players. The situation is now changing markedly, and James is delighted to have maintained his belief in that.
Just your regular debut for the first team in a 7-1 win Could not be more proud of Tino and my family. And to all those know it alls that kept banging on about Chelsea being the wrong club for youth. ♂️ pic.twitter.com/rB6mZ31b23— Sheriff (@Zicokofitino) September 26, 2019
He obviously knows he’ll have to continue earning his chances and minutes in the team, but the idea that those minutes are available and attainable with the proper effort, should provide the proper motivation for both him and the rest of the young players at the club and in the academy.
“At the time I wasn’t sure because the team did well last season, winning the Europa League. I decided to take it as it comes really and when I found out I was staying I was obviously happy. I’m glad I’m getting my chance.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the weeks ahead. I have to take it as it comes. If I’m involved then I’ll be happy, and if I’m not I’ll play again.”
- Reece James; source: Daily Mail
As the entire squad, old and young, are gradually returning to full fitness, the future looks bright, most certainly at the right back position.