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Paul Merson thinks injured Reece James should have been included in England’s World Cup squad

Jack Kenmare

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Paul Merson thinks injured Reece James should have been included in England’s World Cup squad

England cannot win the World Cup this winter without Reece James, according to Paul Merson, who says the injured Chelsea full-back should have been included in the Three Lions' 26-man squad.

The 22-year-old defender was ruled out for at least eight weeks in October after undergoing surgery on a knee injury sustained in a Champions League clash against AC Milan.

There was serious doubt as to whether James would make Gareth Southgate's final squad and on Thursday, the England boss decided against including the Chelsea youth product in a controversial move.

Days later and it appears James 'liked' a Twitter post criticising Southgate's decision.

It read: "I just find it weird that Gareth Southgate is willing to gamble on Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker but not Reece James? If it was Harry Kane, he would be going - what's the difference?"

Reece James' Twitter account 'liked' the following quote. Image credit: Twitter/@ReeceJames
Reece James' Twitter account 'liked' the following quote. Image credit: Twitter/@ReeceJames


The above quote was actually made by former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson, who criticised Gareth Southgate's decision to leave James behind.

"If it was Harry Kane he would be going – what’s the difference? We aren’t going to win the World Cup without having James in the team,’ Merson wrote in his column for The Daily Star.

"He is a shoo-in to start and if we took him, he plays in England’s team every day of the week. He is one of our best players.

"If it was Kane, they would say ‘right we’ll take him and use him after the group stages’.

"We are as bad as anybody at the back so we need to take one of our best players. I just don’t understand it. He is as important as Kane."

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Earlier this week, James released an emotional statement after it was confirmed that he will miss the World Cup through injury.

Taking to Twitter, he wrote: "Devastated. The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turn around to make the World Cup would be tight, but I also felt it was possible.

"I've worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going, and truly believed I could help the team.

"I appreciate there was risk on both sides, but it was one I was willing to take. Good luck to the boys. I'll be back soon. Stay safe & sending love."

Merson analysed James' social media statement in his column.

He added: "Reading his statement, he feels like he is going to be fit in a few week’s time. Now I would have only used him in the knockout stages anyway.

"I’d have wrapped him up in cotton wool because you can use Trent Alexander-Arnold in the group stages where you have 70 per cent of the ball and he’s going to look a world-beater.

"Then when we come up against France and he falls asleep and Kylian Mbappe scores we’ll all be scratching our heads. I am shocked.

"Having a squad of 26 players gives you a safety net to take a risk and bring an injured player. It’s usually 23 and we still have taken injured players in the past."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Reece James, England, Chelsea, Paul Merson, Football World Cup, Gareth Southgate

Jack Kenmare
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