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Reece James aims dig at England boss Southgate

Reece James aims dig at England manager Gareth Southgate over omission from 2022 FIFA World Cup squad

November 12, 2022 By Ali M.
The Chelsea full-back has aired his frustration with the Three Lions boss on Twitter in a cryptic manner.

Playing in the FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of any footballer's career, and as a result, Chelsea superstar Reece James is still reeling from his omission from the Qatar 2022 squad.

The highly-rated Stamford Bridge full-back picked up an unfortunate knee injury during last month's UEFA Champions League win at AC Milan and was thus racing against the clock to recover in time for the winter tournament.

As a result, Gareth Southgate opted against taking a gamble on the 22-year-old and thus left him out of the final 26-man squad. This decision did not go down well with the Chelsea star who took to Twitter to express his disappointment at being omitted. 

"The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always felt it was possible," Reece wrote in a heartfelt message to his followers.

"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," James wrote on social media.

"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," he added, hinting at frustration over Southgate's unwillingness to compromise.

"Stay safe and sending love."

And now the player has aimed a sly dig at his national team boss by pointing out what some perceive to be double standards. Many have pointed out the inclusion of Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips, two players with fitness issues of their own that made the plane to Qatar regardless.

While the former Leeds midfielder has returned from the sidelines, the same cannot be said about the experienced Man City defender as he is unlikely to play a game before the tournament kicks off.

Famous English pundit Paul Merson highlighted this, criticizing Southgate for failing to show Reece the same courtesy he has given to Walker and Phillips, or would have given to Harry Kane had the Tottenham star been fighting an injury.

"I just find it weird that he's willing to gamble on Phillips and Kyle Walker but not Reece James", Merson wrote in The Daily Star.

"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."

This was shared on Twitter by a Chelsea fan page, with James later liking that post, which suggests he too agrees with this line of thinking. However, as mentioned earlier, Kalvin Phillips has returned from injury and featured in Man City's 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Chelsea. Additionally, Southgate isn't blessed with midfielders of Phillips' ilk.

Walker is versatile and can play as a right-back and in the back three. Additionally, the Etihad Stadium ace is 32, meaning this could be his last FIFA World Cup. James, on the other hand, has his future ahead of him and plays in a position where the Three Lions are stacked with options.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is a week away from commencing, with Qatar vs Ecuador on November 20 getting things underway. Kane and Co. kick off their campaign the following day, taking on Iran in their opening game.

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