London (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel said Friday he was taken aback by England manager Gareth Southgate’s decision to call up Reece James into the squad for next week’s World Cup qualifiers, as he insisted the Chelsea full-back was injured.
James limped out of Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Manchester City last weekend with an ankle injury.
That led Chelsea manager Tuchel to joke the 21-year-old could only manage water polo given he is recovering from injury with sessions in a swimming pool.
But, on a more serious note, Tuchel was adamant James would not be fit for England’s matches against Andorra and Hungary, with the full-back also set to miss Saturday’s league game at home to Southampton.
Tuchel, asked if James had been included in the England squad with his backing, replied Friday: “You would assume so, no? But when I saw it I thought that maybe Reece goes with the water polo team for England, because right now he trains in the pool.
“So I was a bit surprised, but I understood that he was selected for the football team. So this will not happen because Reece is training in the pool right now.
“So my understanding, my last information is that he will not go. So that can only be a misunderstanding, nothing else.”
Chelsea will be itching to return to winning ways when hosting Southampton in Saturday’s Premier League clash.
Chelsea have suffered consecutive 1-0 losses, to Manchester City and at Juventus.
Mason Mount is set to return from injury but Tuchel said the England international’s absence was not the reason for the defeats.
“He had a bit of a rough half at Tottenham and we took him out, and everybody was so highly speaking about us in the second-half and he was not on the pitch,” said Tuchel.
“And suddenly Mason’s been missing and now he’s the reason. It’s not on single players.”
“We have a squad, and we have a duty, me as a coach, to find solutions.
“It’s possible to win games without Mason Mount, and hopefully he knows how much I respect him, how much I love him, and how much I want him to be in the team.
“But if he’s injured we need to win games without him, and it’s exactly the same with N’Golo (Kante), Christian Pulisic and Reece James.”
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