England defender Reece James out of World Cup with knee injury

Chelsea right-back confirms he will not be part of manager Gareth Southgate's squad for Qatar tournament this month

Chelsea's Reece James leaves the pitch after suffering a knee injury during the Champions League Group E match against AC Milan in Italy on October 11, 2022. Getty
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Reece James has confirmed on Wednesday that he will not be part of Gareth Southgate's England squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this month because of a knee injury.

The Chelsea defender said on social media that he is “devastated” to be missing the finals, which kick-off on November 20.

The 22-year-old right-back picked up the injury playing against AC Milan in the Champions League on October 11. Chelsea had said he faced at least an eight-week lay-off and James had been hopeful of recovering in time for the World Cup.

The defender began jogging this week but it is believed that Southgate felt it was too big a risk to name him in his 26-man squad, which is announced on Thursday.

He had started the Three Lions' last four matches and was a considered certainty for Southgate's starting XI in Qatar until he suffered the injury.

James wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “Devastated. The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always felt it was possible.

“I’ve worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going and truly believed I could help the team.

“I appreciate there was risk on both sides but it was one I was willing to take. Good luck to the boys. I’ll be back soon. Stay safe and sending love.”

After looking one of England’s positions of real strength, the right-back berth has suddenly became a problem with Kyle Walker also out injured.

The Manchester City defender had groin surgery at the start of October, but said last month he was “confident” of being fit for Qatar.

However, City manager Pep Guardiola said last week that Walker, 32, would not play for the club before the tournament starts.

There was another scare for England manager Gareth Southgate at the weekend when Newcastle United full-back Kieran Tripper pulled up with holding him hamstring just before half-time in the Magpies’ victory at Southampton on Sunday.

But the Newcastle captain, and likely starter for England with James now out, was able to continue and manager Eddie Howe said on Monday that were “no problems” with the 32-year-old.

Updated: November 09, 2022, 2:09 PM