Yesterday, news broke that Chelsea’s Reece James underwent a scan to further diagnose issues he had been experiencing in his knee. Fears that James would be the latest player to seek treatment grew into concerns that surgery would keep him out of the team for a prolonged absence.
The Athletic’s Simon Johnson is reporting today that the results from James’ knee scan are (relatively) good, with surgery seemingly not needed.
Chelsea will still give the right back a rest for the next set of fixtures though, in the hopes that he’ll recover enough to continue his stellar play for the rest of this season.
On the surface, it is good news that surgery is not immediately needed, though it is not known precisely what issues or which knee James is currently experiencing issues — the scan was in part a result of James having some fluid in his knee during training yesterday.
Since Chelsea are planning to play it safe with James, we should expect captain César Azpilicueta to feature prominently throughout the holiday fixtures. Once considered an iron man among Chelsea’s squad, as a player who typically accumulated around the most minutes played per season, Azpilicueta’s return to the starting eleven should not be too much of a concern. However, he’s not started a Premier League match since the draw against Manchester United and has gotten most of his minutes as of late in the Champions League group fixtures.
While not being as strong going forward, Azpilicueta should bring the leadership and defensive acumen that we have become accustomed to over the years. It will be a blow to have James out for the foreseeable future, but hopefully the complications in his knee heal up without too much concern.