“When you see the English national team, you say ‘wow, what a team’.”
Pep Guardiola was full of praise for The Three Lions earlier in the week and you only need to look at the right-back position to see how much class we are producing.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been battling it out for one spot in the national side, with the Liverpool man leading the way to start in the Euros.
But all that talent leaves one face in the lurch, one who would walk into the England side of 2010.
Reece James has been one of Chelsea’s best players this season, which will come as no surprise to those who have been paying close attention to him over the last few years.
He was tipped to do more for the club than Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham following a successful loan at Wigan Athletic.
He suffered an ankle injury whilst playing for the England Under-20s in the summer which kept him out for the first couple of moths of the season.
Frank Lampard has been drip-feeding him back into the squad with the youngster rarely playing more than a game a week.
After his recent performances, Lampard must be looking at him as a guaranteed starter.
Cesar Azpilicueta – the club captain – is versatile enough to play at left-back with neither Marcos Alonso or Emerson setting west London alight in their games over the past year.
This was how Lampard operated against Burnley on Saturday and James was the fans’ Man of the Match.
His whipped balls in were reminiscent of Alexander-Arnold and his defending comparable to Wan-Bissaka.
And that’s exactly where the problem lies for the 20-year-old.
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Alexander-Arnold has got his foot firmly in the door at England and is not one of The Three Lions’ very best players, but in contention for the PFA Player of the Year award.
Then you have the experienced Walker, who has 48 caps, and Wan-Bissaka, whose impressive season at Crystal Palace and £50m summer transfer surely puts him higher in the pecking order than the Chelsea man.
What would Fabio Capello have done for those kind of options heading into the South Africa World cup of 2010?
Glen Johnson won 54 caps but would probably now be England’s fifth choice right-back at best.
Micah Richards even made 13 caps for England in the interim between the Gary Neville and Walker reigns.
All James can do is continue to put in performances like he did against Burnley and Nottingham Forest and hope to catch Gareth Southgate’s eye before he names his squad later in the year.
He was Wigan’s Player of the Season last year and made it into the Championship Team of the Season, often playing in a deep-lying midfield role.
His progression and talent is immense but barring some injuries to those ahead of him, James is set to become one of the least fortunate England players of the modern era.
Who said no-one wants to grow up and be a Gary Neville?
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