Why Reece James isn’t in the Chelsea squad to face Southampton after Graham Potter decision
Reece James has been left out of the Chelsea squad to face Southampton and the reason for his absence has been revealed.
The 23-year-old has missed the majority of the season due to a knee injury and has only made 15 appearances in all competitions.
James made his Chelsea injury return against Fulham at the start of February after a further setback suffered when he played against AFC Bournemouth at Christmas.
He has since played 90 minutes against West Ham and Borussia Dortmund and looked to be well on course to returning to full fitness.
But James wasn’t included in Chelsea’s starting XI to face Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge despite training at Cobham on Friday.
It was reported by The Athletic that the reason for James’ absence was due to Potter and his staff deciding to leave him out as they continue to manage his minutes ahead of some crucial upcoming fixtures against Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund.
The defender has ‘played more minutes than initially planned’ which has meant the Blues have opted to leave him out for the league encounter in the capital.
Potter hinted in his pre-match media duties with Chelsea TV that they would make sure all players would be managed as they welcome back many players from short and long term injuries.
He said: “As a club and staff, we have to make sure we make the right calls and decisions because we’ve got a few options and we need to make sure we manage it correctly.”
Potter confirmed there were no injuries in the squad in his pre-match chat, revealing: “No, we don’t have any injuries, we are just using this as a chance to rest a few players who have a little bit of fatigue. It’s the circumstances we find ourselves in and we just have to be careful with those players.”
Cesar Azpilicueta came into the side to replace the England international, while Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and Benoit Badiashile returned to the side.
David Datro Fofana was given his first start since joining Chelsea, while Mykhailo Mudryk dropped to the bench.
Starting XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Koulibaly, Badiashile, Chilwell, Enzo, Kovacic, Madueke, Joao Felix, Mount, D. Fofana
Bench: Bettinelli, Chalobah, W. Fofana, Hall, Gallagher, Zakaria, Mudryk, Sterling, Havertz