Reece James limped off with a knee injury during Chelsea’s win over AC Milan on Tuesday; reports on Friday suggested the defender could miss the World Cup.
Chelsea’s Reece James and N’Golo Kante are sidelined by injury
Graham Potter has revealed Reece James will see a specialist this weekend amid reports the knee injury he suffered on Tuesday will rule him out of the World Cup.
James was forced off during the second half of Chelsea’s 2-0 win away to AC Milan in the Champions League, with claims emerging on Friday that the defender would be unable to take his place in the England squad for the tournament in Qatar, which kicks off on November 20.
However, Potter put the brakes on those reports ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Aston Villa on Sunday – live on Sky Sports – saying: “He’s due to see a specialist over the weekend so, until we get that information, there’s not too much else I can add unfortunately. The rest would just be speculation from my perspective.
“We spoke yesterday (Thursday) and he felt not too bad but, until you get these things checked, you never know.
“There’s no point looking into the doomsday scenario yet. We just need to check and then go forward.”
If James is forced to miss the World Cup, it will be a huge blow for Gareth Southgate, who has started the 22-year-old in England’s last four matches.
The Chelsea academy graduate is also a key player for the Blues, having scored twice and registered two assists in 11 matches this season.
‘Kante setback is worrying’
Potter was equally tight-lipped on the prospect of N’Golo Kante being unable to feature at the World Cup after fears were raised that he will be unavailable for France in Qatar.
“He’s due to see a consultant at the weekend,” Potter said of the midfielder. “It’s a setback so it’s not good news, but at this stage I can’t give you anything more.”
However, the head coach was able to provide an update of sorts on Wesley Fofana, who is currently sidelined by the knee injury he suffered in the home game against AC Milan last week.
“He’s progressing but I don’t think we’ll see him before the World Cup in terms of playing for Chelsea,” said Potter.
Kante’s setback is the latest injury blow for the 31-year-old, who has been unavailable since suffering a hamstring injury against Tottenham in August and has only started 54 per cent of Chelsea’s Premier League matches since the start of the 2019/20 season due to a range of fitness issues.
Former Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said last season it was a “miracle” that his side were able to finish third after missing Kante for so much of the campaign and his successor Potter has been unable to call on the midfielder for any of his five matches in charge.
Chelsea have a big decision to make over Kante’s future given his contract expires at the end of the season and Potter conceded his regular absences are a “concern”.
“Historically there’s things that have happened that are a concern so we need to get to the bottom of that,” said the head coach.
“It’s a setback in the last stage of his rehab so that’s worrying. All we can do is get the right diagnosis, get the right consultation and then try to help him get back to full fitness and enjoying his football.”
The clock is ticking as Gareth Southgate prepares to name his preliminary squad for Qatar 2022 on October 21 and our ladder, updated weekly and made up of the top 40 players in contention, ranks the latest risers and fallers.
Harry Maguire’s continued absence for Manchester United means his place on the plane is in jeopardy and there is plenty of movement elsewhere too, including three new entries.
Join us as we run through the players on the plane, those sitting in the departure lounge with their boarding passes in hand and those stuck in traffic in a taxi on their way to the airport.