Chelsea duo Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah have pulled out the England Under-21 squad owing to ‘fitness concerns’, as their clubmate Mason Mount looks set to start for the seniors against the Czech Republic.
James, who only recently returned to action with the Blues after suffering an ankle injury at the Under-20 World Cup in June, has now been hit with another setback.
The 19-year-old had been hoping to make his debut for the Under-21s having greatly impressed on his debut for the club against Grimsby Town, notching a goal and an assist which promptly catapulted him into the starting XI for their next Champions League clash against Lille.
However, the Evening Standard reports both he and Chalobah have now been forced to pull out of the squad, with the latter, who is currently on loan at Huddersfield, thankfully only withdrawn as a ‘precaution’.
As of yet, it is unknown what James’ injury is, and whether it will affect his involvement in club football going forward.
Nevertheless, Chelsea will still have representation in the squad through Callum Hudson-Odoi and 18-year-old Marc Guehi, who joined up with side for the first time after impressing in the win over Grimsby.
As for Mount, who has started all but one of Chelsea’s 12 games across all competitions thus far, notching four goals and one assist in the process, he is set to start for the senior squad for the first time.
According to a report from Sky Sports, Gareth Southgate will pick him ahead of Ross Barkley in much the same way Frank Lampard has been all season.
Of course, his path to the starting XI was cleared by the enforced withdrawal of James Maddison through illness.
Maddison has been present in the squad four times, but is yet to receive his first cap and, speaking on this, Southgate said: “I can’t guarantee people football.
“He only has to see the players that have been left out to recognise just to get in the squad is an achievement, and I don’t handle him any differently to any of the others, really.
“He wants to talk football which is great. He wants to know what areas of his game that we like and that we think he can improve. He seems to take all of that on board really well, so he’s playing very well, but so is Mount, so is [Jadon] Sancho and so are all of the others – that’s the conundrum.”
And Gareth wasn’t done yet, either, continuing: “We’ve got Callum Hudson-Odoi coming through and other players are emerging so quickly.
“You’ve got Bukayo Saka at Arsenal just dipping his toes in the first team as well. So, we’ve got really good players, we need more than three.
“I’ve always said that in tournaments that I played in, we always pinned our hopes on one player or two players. Then there was an injury, a drama and a crisis and you need players to be able to start games and you need players who are able to come on and make a difference in games.”
At the moment, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling remain the benchmark, but, as Southgate affirmed, they are being pushed by the likes of Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson.