With England manager Gareth Southgate in the stands today to watch Aston Villa and Chelsea in person, the prognosis for Reece James’ injury continues to occupy a great many minds, both at Chelsea and at the national team setup.
Chelsea have even gone to the rare step of officially announcing James’ injury, pegging his recovery estimate at an “expected” eight weeks, which would rule him out from the World Cup as well. The 22-year-old himself has not given up however, as his social media postings would indicate, reportedly believing himself to be “always a quick healer”.
The race against time is on… But we won’t give up.— Reece James (@ReeceJames) October 15, 2022
But with World Cup squads due in less than a month — must be officially submitted by November 13 — James is facing a seemingly unwinnable race against time, not to mention modern medicine, and the limits of the human body, even without having to undergo surgery. As confirmed by head coach Graham Potter, James is set to wear a knee brace for the next four weeks, for example, and that’s going to limit any sort of active rehab he may be able to do.
“In terms of his involvement in the World Cup, I don’t know. It will depend on how he recovers. He will give everything. I’m sure he will. But he is in a brace for four weeks and that slows everything down.”
“[He] will be in a brace for four weeks. That’s all I know the next four weeks look like for him and that has implications in terms of what he needs to do to get fit from there but our job is just to help him in the short term now and get him back.”
Earlier in the week, Potter seemed a bit surprised when he was asked about James being spotted on an easyJet flight back from Milan the day after the Chelsea game, which has drawn some attention from The FA as well, who poked their noses into our business as if they were the paragons of player welfare.
This tweet in response has been withheld because it involved too many swear words. https://t.co/ktNnKxiREU— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) October 15, 2022
But as Potter explained today, the extra day off in Milan had been agreed before the game, and, as we all might remember, James’s injury seemed less severe initially.
“The boys had a couple of days free and — especially with the international players — it’s important to give them a break when you can and that’s the idea. Reece felt a bit of discomfort the following day, came home, and we got it assessed as quickly as we could. Nothing has got worse because of how we acted in those times. Now we have to support him and get him strong.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
The more immediate concern for us is of course how to replace James. We cannot do so directly, and today’s version with Raheem Sterling as a hybrid wing-back wasn’t really working well, if at all. César Azpilicueta played the second half, but he’s no longer an every day player, so we’re going to have to get a bit more creative...