The message posted on Reece James’ Twitter account started with one word: “Devastated.” It was confirmed today that James would play no part in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which begins in just 11 days.

James had been terrorizing opponents on the right wing for Chelsea until injuring his knee against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League on October 11. Since the injury, he has been working hard to get back to fitness in time for the England squad announcement expected tomorrow.

Just how good is Reece James?

Already one of the best right backs in the world right now, James still has plenty of time to improve. He turns 23 on December 8, the day before the Quarter-finals are due to be played in Qatar. His stats from the past 12 months demonstrate what an elite talent he is.

James ranks in the 98th percentile for defenders in terms of non-penalty goals scored. He ranks in the 99th percentile for the following metrics: shots, assists, shot-creating actions, dribbles completed, touches, and progressive passes received. With expectations for the England Men’s team soaring before the tournament, losing James is a blow Gareth Southgate would rather have avoided.

Who could replace James?

The options at right back have been widely debated. Kyle Walker is still returning from injury and is a doubt for the squad. Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold will surely be in the squad. A late shout could be made for Ben White, who has been playing for English Premier League leaders Arsenal at right back.

With today’s news confirming Reece James will miss the tournament, Gareth Southgate still has options, though he may be less confident in the options he has. Reece James adds to the list of England players who will miss the World Cup through injury including Emile Smith-Rowe (groin), Kalvin Phillips (doubtful, shoulder), and Chelsea teammate Ben Chilwell (hamstring).

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