Reece James was back to doing some light individual drills last week, and while Thomas Tuchel was reticent to put any specific timeline on the wing-back’s return, according to The Athletic, he is “on course” to return in the next two weeks — three or four at the latest.
James tore his hamstring at the end of December in the home match against Brighton & Hove Albion, and while he did not require surgery on it, he was expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Hamstring injuries can take some time to properly heal, so my conservative expectation was to have him back by early or mid-March.
If he is able to return in time for the Club World Cup (starts February 9) or even the first leg against Lille in the Champions League Round of 16 (February 22), he will have done very well indeed. Hopefully, and this should go without saying, we will make sure that he is in fact fully recovered, lest we have to do with nagging hamstring problems for the rest of the season with him.
James’ return, whenever it happens, should help alleviate our issues at wing-back, not just on the right, but by being able to deputize on the left as well.