‘I need to keep working hard’ – Chelsea star James refuses to rule himself out of World Cup

News Desk
Chelsea defender Reece James holds his knee

Chelsea right-back Reece James is fighting to be fit in time for the World Cup as he works his way back from a knee injury.

James, 22, is still in a brace after hurting his knee in Chelsea’s 2-0 Champions League win over AC Milan on October 11 – an injury Graham Potter suggested would sideline him for eight weeks, which would rule him out of the tournament in Qatar.

But with less than two weeks until Gareth Southgate is due to name his 26-man squad on November 10, James believes he still has a chance.

“I need to keep working hard over the next few weeks and see where I am on call-up day,” he told The Sun. “I will try and not rule myself out. It is still slow and in the early stages.

“I have been in rehab for two weeks, so I am still taking it day-by-day. The Chelsea medical staff have not given me a percentage of my chance of being back for the World Cup.

“It is down to how I feel closer to the time and how stable it is.”

Meanwhile, Potter insists he is not “naive” enough to expect a happy homecoming when he takes his Chelsea side to former club Brighton on Saturday.

The 47-year-old left the AMEX Stadium last month to replace Thomas Tuchel as Blues boss and has yet to lose a game with his new club.

In contrast, since Potter’s departure, Brighton have failed to win a single game, with Roberto De Zerbi still seeking to make an impression after taking charge.

Potter guided the Seagulls to their best-ever league finish as they ended last season in ninth and they had climbed as high as fourth before he left for Stamford Bridge.

“It is a place where I spent three happy years and I am looking forward to going back,” Potter said on the eve of the game.

“These things happen in football, sometimes life throws you opportunities and you have to take them or not, the timing wasn’t great for anybody but sometimes that happens.

“Then it is about the decision, the decision to work here was too good to turn down, I thought.

“As to what the crowd, what the expectations from them are, I don’t really have any.

“Most people I have spoken to in Brighton have been supportive thankfully – but I am not naive, I know it is not universal.”

Potter has been keeping a close eye on his former charges since his exit and believes they are better than their results under De Zerbi suggest.

Asked if that first win could come against his Chelsea side, Potter replied: “Of course, they are capable of that.

“I think they have been unlucky, that is the only thing I can say, the performances have been good, there are positives there. You need luck and I don’t think they have had any.

“I think Roberto has been in a few weeks now, you can see the ideas, the differences, there is definitely change there I would say.

“There is a new manager, new ideas and there is always something to learn, something to surprise.”

READ MORE: Big Weekend: Liverpool v Leeds, Vardy v Guardiola, De Zerbi v Potter, Arsenal v themselves