Ben Chilwell will replace Reece James in the England squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, football.london understands.
Chilwell has endured a difficult few months with club and country. He was part of the Three Lions’ squad for this summer’s European Championship but was one of just three outfield players not to be handed a single minute of match action during the tournament.
The 24-year-old’s involvement in the England set-up did, however, mean he reported late back to pre-season training with Chelsea. And with Marcos Alonso starting the campaign in fine form, Chilwell was stuck on the fringes of Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
As a result, he wasn’t selected by Southgate for last month’s World Cup qualifiers and it was only this weekend that Chilwell made his first Premier League start of the campaign.
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The defender was named in the starting XI against Southampton, played in a false wing-back role, and got on the scoresheet as the Blues secured a 3-1 victory.
Chilwell’s call-up is just reward for his perseverance, something which Tuchel praised last month. “He had a good end of the season in general and played a lot of minutes for us, with many crucial games at a high level, but then it was a tough Euros for him individually because there were chances where he thought he could have played but he did not.
“I know that it was a tough one because he did everything to push the team but you don’t feel it really if you don’t sweat it out sometimes on the pitch, if you never wear the shirt and if you’re never really involved.
“It is a strange feeling, so to keep training for four or five weeks continuously and then he had a personal break, it was hard for him to totally relax and to get this personal disappointment off the shoulders.”
Tuchel continued: “We had some talks with Chilly about the situation. He knows that I would have done the same thing if it had been the other way round, to trust him if he was here and showed this kind of personality and attitude like Marcos did.
“They push each other and there are no further worries for Chilly. He has to be a bit patient and keep on training.
“It took some time, we had to give him a little bit of time to be a bit more patient with himself, to find the joy again and to find things a bit easier on the pitch and to not want to force it too hard. This is where we are now.”
That Chilwell is replacing Chelsea teammate James in the England squad is no great surprise. The academy graduate suffered an ankle injury in the defeat to Manchester City a little over a week ago and was absent against Juventus and Southampton.
Tuchel confirmed ahead of the victory against the Saints that James hadn’t even returned to first-team training and was bemused as to why he had been selected by Southgate.
“When I saw it I thought that maybe Reece goes with the water polo team for England, because right now he trains in the pool,” Tuchels said on Friday.
“So I was a bit surprised, but I understood that he was selected for the football team. So this will not happen because Reece is training in the pool right now.
“So my understanding, my last information, is that he will not go. So that can only be a misunderstanding, nothing else.”