‘Devastated’ Reece James out of England’s World Cup squad

Gareth Southgate has told Chelsea defender Reece James he will not be part of England’s 26-man squad for the World Cup final.

In a social media statement, James said he was “devastated” and added that he “truly believes” he can help the Qatar team. The 22-year-old was in a race against time to get fit after suffering a knee injury against AC Milan last month.

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James flew to Dubai to undergo a specialist recovery program and had started running away from home at Chelsea’s Cobham base, but after regular dialogue between club doctors and the England medical team, the right-back was deemed too risky for his fitness to take to Qatar.

“As soon as I hurt my knee I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always thought it was possible,” James said.

“I worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance to go there and I really believed I could help the team.

“I understand there was a risk on both sides, but it was a risk I was willing to take.”

Southgate will confirm their final selection on Thursday afternoon at St George’s Park.

Chelsea boss Graham Potter said on Tuesday that no date had been set for James to return to the club.

“I think it’s just his way of reacting,” Potter said. “We don’t want to rush anything. I certainly don’t want to put any deadlines on this, it’s for the doctors and the physios.”

James’ injury boosts Trent Alexander-Arnold’s prospects despite his mixed form at Liverpool.

Southgate are struggling with injury elsewhere with Kyle Walker (groin) and Kalvin Phillips (shoulder) in a race to be fit, although there is more optimism the pair could have progressed enough to be included.

As well as Walker and Phillips, Southgate will also make late calls on whether to call Marcus Rashford and James Maddison. Rashford missed the last squad in September through injury but has scored seven goals in 17 appearances for Manchester United this season.

Maddison has more Premier League goalscoring involvements (22) in the calendar year than any other Englishman apart from Harry Kane, but hasn’t been named in an England squad since 2019.

Harry Maguire will also sweat in his place after starting just two games for United in all competitions since August 13, when Erik ten Hag’s side lost 4-0 at Brentford.

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