EXCLUSIVE: Reece James could miss the World Cup with knee injury more serious than first feared and surgery possible… in a hammer blow to Chelsea and Gareth Southgate’s plans
- Reece James could miss the World Cup after picking up a knee injury this week
- He has sustained ligament damage and is set to miss six to eight weeks of action
- His absence would be a massive blow for Gareth Southgate ahead of Qatar
- James has started England’s last two games and was set to be a key player
Reece James faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after rupturing knee ligaments in Chelsea’s Champions League win over AC Milan.
Sportsmail can reveal that the England defender had a scan yesterday which showed he sustained ligament damage in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory at the San Siro, which is likely to rule him out for between six and eight weeks.
James has been in outstanding form this season and was expected to start at right-back for England at the World Cup, creating a dilemma for manager Gareth Southgate.
Reece James (C) is in danger of missing the World Cup as he struggles with a knee injury
James would be a huge blow for England boss Gareth Southgate (R) – the right back was set to play a integral role in his plans for Qatar
The 22-year-old appears to have little chance of being fit for England’s opening game against Iran on 21 November, but Southgate could decide to risk picking him in his expanded 26-man squad.
Surgery could even be a possibility for the right-back after he was substituted for Cesar Azpilicueta in the 62nd minute of the win at the San Siro.
To compound England’s problems, Kyle Walker is also unlikely to be fit for the start of the tournament.
Southgate will now have to choose between Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier, who has filled in at left-back for the Three Lions, and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold – though he has come under fire this season for some poor defensive displays.
Kieran Trippier (L) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) would be contenders to replace him
James’ injury is also a bitter blow for Chelsea, as it is worse than indicated by manager Graham Potter after the game in Milan.
He has started six of Chelsea eight Premier League games. Under Potter, James has played all four of his first games, while the 22-year-old started England’s last two games under Southgate.
James played the full 90 minutes against Germany – grabbing an assist in the 3-3 draw last month – and also played throughout in the 1-0 loss to Italy.
More to follow.
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