Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says Reece James could be deployed in central midfield in the future as his all-round game is so good.
James was selected in his favoured right-back position ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta for Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
And he impressed up against Wilfried Zaha, snuffing out the threat from the flying Palace winger.
James may find it difficult to establish himself at right-back ahead of Azpilicueta on a regular basis.
Lampard will be keen to retain experience in his defence having played a youthful back four of James (19), Kurt Zouma (25), Fikayo Tomori (21) and Emerson (25) on Saturday.
But the Chelsea boss said there will be opportunities for pacey James in whatever formation he selects – and predicted the teenager will move into midfield as his career progresses.
“Right-back would be his favoured position,” Lampard said. “Whether it be there, right wing-back or right of a three.
“As he’s coming into the team, you’d see him there but he does have that all-round game that he could handle playing centrally in midfield if needs be.
“At the moment we’ve got good players in there who are used to playing in there anyway, but he could always do that as he matures through his career.”
Lampard said Azpilicueta took it well when James was preferred to him for Saturday’s game.
“He took it as I thought he would do, as a perfect professional and it was not a problem,” said Lampard.
“He wants to play, of course he does, but I think he also understands the quality of Reece.
“He’s played every game barring the Carabao Cup, and every minute of the games, so I don’t think it’s the worst for him to have a bit of a rest and now he can go away and have a rest. We’ve got massive games coming up after the break.”