Reece James would have had the Qatar World Cup circled in his diary for a long time but a hugely unfortunate knee injury meant that his chances of representing Gareth Southgate’s side were cruelly taken away from him and things haven’t gone much better for the defender on his return to Premier League action.
The 23-year-old initially picked up his serious injury back in October and the festive fixtures after the break for international football were supposed to mark his return to action but he soon ended up limping off the Stamford Bridge pitch.
Only 50 minutes had been played against Bournemouth and, although the defender was able to walk off unassisted and Graham Potter had already confirmed pre-match that he wouldn’t be playing the full 90, it was a visible blow to the player, his teammates and supporters alike for what was a clearly unplanned substitution.
Ending an 11-week absence with another fitness concern and a replacement by Cesar Azpilicueta, who equalled Petr Cech’s record of most games played by a foreign player for the Blues, was far from the ideal conclusion but winning 2-0 will certainly have helped ease some concerns for the London club.
The former Brighton boss consoled his visibly upset full-back on his way off the pitch and it’s still unknown as to whether this is a flare up of the previous issue or a new one altogether.
For now, the England international will be glad to see the back of 2022 and will hope that the new year proves to be one that is much kinder to his career aspirations.
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