Gareth: James has put Euro place in jeopardy
Southgate fires warning after Chelsea captain snubbed call-up
REECE JamEs has risked his place in England’s Euro 2024 squad by turning down the opportunity of an international recall to continue his return to full fitness at Chelsea.
The Blues captain, who has a long list of injury issues, is fit again following a three-month lay- off and Gareth southgate wanted to draft the right back into his squad for the forthcoming qualifiers against malta and North macedonia.
But in revealing his latest party yesterday, the national team boss confirmed that James had declined a place in the squad.
‘I was hoping to call up Reece James but he doesn’t feel he’s quite ready,’ revealed southgate.
‘I understand that, he’s had a long path back from a number of injuries. He’s probably a bit cautious in that respect, but I can understand why.’
Expanding on the issue, southgate added: ‘There is (a lot of talent ahead of James) and that’s the risk. He’s only got one more squad before the Euros. so he knows that. We’ve got belief in what he can do.
‘We did discuss (reporting for duty to attend team meetings) and he was very keen to make clear, “Look I don’t want you to think I don’t want to be there”.
‘ We had a really good long conversation and exchange of messages after that as well. But I’m very understanding. His injury record, you can see the number of matches and the different phases (he has missed). so we are all conscious that we want to have a fit Reece that can play consecutive games.
‘Physical reliability is going to be really important. I think we will always manage a player as well as we can but there is a reality around his training at the moment. He plays and there’s a couple of days’ recovery.
‘ There’s a little bit more angst from his side. I totally get that. We would have loved to have him with us, don’t get me wrong. But I’m perfectly calm with the conversation.’
There was a starker warning for out-of-favour arsenal goalkeeper aaron Ramsdale, who has lost his club place to David Raya.
Ramsdale is recognised as Jordan Pickford’s main understudy, but his lack of action at arsenal has cast doubt over his position in England’s plans ahead of the European Championship.
‘We’re just going to have to see how it is. I had that conversation with him in the last camp,’ said southgate. ‘He’s still battling to
be the No 1 at arsenal, and his profile and the way he can use the ball with his feet, we like and think is important.
‘ But there is a reality as a keeper, if we get to march and he’s six months without playing regularly, then I’m never going to promise things that I couldn’t guarantee delivering. so he knows that, he’s perfectly realistic about that.’
southgate has given a recall to Newcastle striker Callum Wilson, with Eddie Nketiah losing his place. There was no room for Wilson’s in- form clubmate anthony Gordon, nor Chelsea duo Cole Palmer and Raheem sterling.
southgate denied suggestions of a rift between him and sterling after he was left out for the fifth consecutive squad.
‘Who am I leaving out to put him in? He wasn’t available in march or June so the team had started on a good run. ‘We won in Italy for the first time in 60 years. The two performances in June were excellent. We’ve stuck with that group pretty much through this qualifying campaign.
‘ We’ve deliberately not made many changes because we felt that’s been fair to the guys who have been in the squad. Performances have been excellent. There is huge competition for places.
‘There is no question Raheem is looking dangerous for his club. He looks invigorated since the start of this season.
‘The door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players. There’s no doubt about that. We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years.’