‘I thought it was for water polo’ – England call for injured Reece James confuses Chelsea boss Tuchel

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Thomas Tuchel has laughed off Reece James’ surprise inclusion in the latest England squad, with the Chelsea boss joking that he thought the right-back had been selected for water polo duty as he is still training in a swimming pool at present.

The 21-year-old defender, who has eight senior caps to his name, was included in Gareth Southgate’s latest selection for World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary despite picking up an ankle injury on his last Premier League outing against Manchester City.

He is still some way from shaking off that ailment, as he is yet to return to the training pitch, and Tuchel has been left confused as to why England selected a player who is clearly in no position to join their ranks.

What has been said?

Tuchel told reporters ahead of a meeting with Southampton on Saturday when quizzed on James’ call-up: “When I saw it, I thought maybe Reece goes with the water polo team for England as right now he trains in the pool.

“I was a bit surprised, I understand he was selected for the [England] football team but this will not happen. My last information is he will not go, it can only be a misunderstanding.”

Asked if he was surprised not to have been sounded out by Southgate before the England squad list was drawn up, Tuchel added: “It's normal. Imagine if every coach called. I am very bad at answering calls anyway. The club is in touch.”

Who is back for Chelsea?

Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante are among those that remain sidelined for Chelsea through injury and illness, but key men are stepping back into the fold.

England international playmaker Mason Mount is one of those, with the 22-year-old shaking off a knock picked up in a Carabao Cup clash with Aston Villa that has kept him out of the Blues’ last two games,

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Tuchel added, with Mount also being called upon by Southgate: “Mason is in the squad, Mason is back. It was not a long injury, it was a minor injury.

“Obviously, a given he is nominated and he's happy to be and will give everything to do his best for the England squad."

Further reading

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