Chelsea manager Graham Potter has fuelled doubts that right-back Reece James will be fit for the World Cup, revealing he will be forced to wear a knee brace for four weeks before even thinking about returning to training.
Despite initial positive scans, further assessments on James’ knee revealed damage that is likely to take up to eight weeks to heal – a time frame which would rule him out of the World Cup.
England boss Gareth Southgate is set to name his preliminary squad on October 19 and must have finalised his 26-man selection by November 13, by which point James is expected to still be wearing a brace.
“In terms of his involvement in the World Cup, I don’t know,” Potter admitted after Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Aston Villa. “It will depend on how he recovers. He will give everything. I’m sure he will. But he is in a brace for four weeks and that slows everything down.
“[He] will be in a brace for four weeks. That’s all I know the next four weeks look like for him and that has implications in terms of what he needs to do to get fit from there but our job is just to help him in the short term now and get him back.”
Potter was also unimpressed with questions relating to the FA’s reported frustration towards Chelsea for allowing James to remain in Milan for a further day in the aftermath of the injury.
“The boys had a couple of days free and – especially with the international players – it’s important to give them a break when you can and that’s the idea,” Potter said.
“Reece felt a bit of discomfort the following day, came home, and we got it assessed as quickly as we could. Nothing has got worse because of how we acted in those times. Now we have to support him and get him strong.”