Chelsea’s Reece James facing about three months out with hamstring injury

Reece James is facing another lengthy lay-off with his latest hamstring injury and is increasingly unlikely to be part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad at Euro 2024.

Chelsea have confirmed their captain has started his rehabilitation programme and although the club has not put a timescale on the injury, the right-back is expected to be out for about three months. James, who has sustained seven hamstring injuries in three years, visited a specialist to determine the severity and must make a decision on whether to undergo surgery.

An operation would push back James’s return but there is a feeling that it would be better for him in the long run. James was out for two months after a hamstring injury in August and it has not taken long for him to break down again. The 24-year-old, who has made six appearances this season, limped off during Chelsea’s defeat at Everton last Sunday.

The defender’s latest spell on the sidelines is likely to hit his chances of going to the Euros. Southgate will take a 23-man squad to Germany next summer and has said fitness will play a part in selection. England’s manager is likely to have doubts over whether he can rely on James, who missed last year’s World Cup with a knee injury.

James was absent from England’s last camp after deciding to stay at Chelsea to work on his recovery. Southgate had wanted to select him. He said that James was risking his place by staying away. Southgate is not short of options at right-back, with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold expected to be picked.

For Chelsea, the main concern will not be James’s international prospects. He has looked below his physical peak since returning in October and was sent off against Newcastle last month. Chelsea have missed James’s explosiveness on the right. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are 12th in the Premier League and will be without their captain for a pivotal period.

James was given the armband at the start of the season. The vice-captain, Ben Chilwell, is also out with a long-term hamstring injury. Conor Gallagher has been captain when Chilwell and James have been out.

Chelsea have struggled with injuries and also had their goalkeeper Robert Sánchez and the left-back Marc Cucurella go off early against Everton. Two of their expensive summer signings, Christopher Nkunku and Roméo Lavia, are yet to play a minute of competitive football.

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Chelsea will hope Nkunku returns from a long-term knee injury when Sheffield United visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Trevoh Chalobah, Wesley Fofana, Carney Chukwuemeka, Malo Gusto, Lesley Ugochukwu and Noni Madueke were unavailable against Everton.


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