Graham Potter: Chelsea 'keeping fingers crossed' over latest Reece James injury

Blues returned to winning ways by beating Bournemouth 2-0 but it was the sight of the England full-back limping off early in the second half which was the big talking point at Stamford Bridge

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Graham Potter said Chelsea will "keep our fingers crossed" and hope Reece James' injury isn't too serious after the Blues' much-needed return to winning ways on Tuesday night was soured by the England full-back's early exit.

After a run of three straight Premier League defeats, Chelsea beat Bournemouth 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, with goals from Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, but it was the injury to James which provided the big talking point from the game.

The 23-year-old had been sidelined since October with a knee injury, meaning he missed out on Gareth Southgate's England World Cup squad, and after recovering during the winter break which included a training camp in Abu Dhabi, took his place in Chelsea's starting line-up to face Bournemouth.

As is often the case, James was one of Chelsea's standout players at Stamford Bridge, but he was forced off five minutes into the second half with an injury Potter confirmed was in a similar area as his previous injury.

"We will have to see over the next 24 to 48 hours," Potter said. "At the moment it is a bit too soon, but he felt something there so we’ll wait to see the extent of it and keep our fingers crossed at the moment.

"Reece is disappointed of course, and at the moment we're just in a stage where we're hoping that it isn't as bad."

There is no coincidence that James' first injury, sustained in the Champions League game against AC Milan on October 11, coincided with Chelsea's downturn in form. In the 10 matches in his absence, Chelsea won just three and lost four in all competitions.

Reece James shakes hands with Chelsea manager Graham Potter after leaving the pitch injured against Bournemouth. EPA

While England may be blessed with an abundant of right-backs, with the likes of Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, and Trent Alexander-Arnold all able to compensate for James' World Cup absence, Chelsea are not quite as fortunate and have at times been over-reliant on his presence in the team.

Even in the 40 minutes after James limped off on Tuesday night, Chelsea's performance visibly dropped.

“It’s probably a little bit of everything," Potter said when asked about the team's dip following James' exit. "Reece was playing well and he’s a top player. As much as we think coaches are magicians, believe you me if you have top players it makes the coach’s job a lot easier.

Chelsea v Bournemouth player ratings

"You can see the quality Reece brings down that right in the first half, especially and to see him go off, it affects the stadium, the team, everything. That isn’t an excuse but we’re human beings and he is someone we care a lot about.

"There is going to be some concern and worry and I think that’s natural. Given the results we’ve had too, you want to try to hold on to your win and I think that affected our performance in the second half.

“Reece is a world-class player," Potter added. "You see it from the outside but it’s not until you work with him how good he is," Potter said. "He is an incredible player, one who would fit into any team in the world. Any team would miss him.”

Updated: December 28, 2022, 7:03 AM
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