Reece James was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday for the first time since opening day nearly three months ago, and so far it’s looking like he’s avoided any setbacks or fresh concerns in his bid to get over his latest injury concern.
It was his 151st senior appearance for Chelsea, which sounds impressive and meaningful, though it’s still nearly 50 behind Mason Mount, who burst onto the scene at the same time but has already left the club. The difference in availability is stark: since the start of the 2022 calendar year, James has missed over half of our games (just 42 appearances from 92 matches), dealing with multiple knee and hamstring injuries.
It’s those recurring hamstring injuries that are the biggest cause for alarm and apprehension as the 23-year-old attempts his latest comeback. Mauricio Pochettino is obviously well aware of this situation as well, and has reiterated our intention to manage James’ workload properly, slowly ramping up his recovery and presumably continuing to be very careful with him in the long-term as well.
“The plan was to check at half-time how he felt and how he was. After 15 minutes (of the second half), he started to feel tired. We need to be careful how we manage him. At that moment, we decided to make that change.
“It is important now to make the progression and to be careful. Sometimes, maybe, to play 90 minutes and take some risk. It is true we cannot avoid 100 per cent of the risk, but the plan is to go little by little.”
“When you decide that he’s your captain, it is important that he stays fit, can play and help the team. He’s an important player for us. He’s an amazing player, one of the best full-backs in the world. Little by little, he is going to get fit and cope with the demand of the games.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Athletic
So that plan still sounds a bit sketchy to me, and doesn’t necessarily fill me with confidence that we have put the injuries issues into the rear view. And a relapse now would surely mean surgery and even more time missed.
But I guess it’s the best we can do at the minute. Crossing fingers and toes and such!