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Reece James to miss Fifa Club World Cup

Reece James is still a few weeks from injury as Thomas Tuchel confirmed the defender would not travel with Chelsea to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup.

James suffered a hamstring injury at the end of December and has been unable to return to team training since.

His absence proved a big blow for the Blues, given James’ importance in his right wing-back role.

He had a hand in the joint-most goals (11) across all competitions in their squad.

While only Mason Mount (42) laid on more key passes than James (38).

Reece James’ injury was incredibly frustrating for Chelsea, given they had already lost Ben Chilwell for the rest of the season after sustaining a severe knee injury the previous month.

And James will not be back in the immediate future, Tuchel confirmed on Friday. However, he did not seem too disheartened at Chelsea’s inability to bring in extra cover for the wing-backs during the January transfer window.

Tuchel told reporters ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round clash with Plymouth Argyle.

“We tried and had ideas, but in the end, we stick to what we have and are happy.

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“Reece will come back at some point [this season], unfortunately not Ben Chilwell, but Reece will come back and compete for a place in the squad.

“Cesar Azpilicueta at the moment is in great form and a fantastic place. That is why it’s okay. We try to find solutions in our squad.

“[James] is not in team training yet. After a couple of weeks, he will need some time in team training to get the rhythm and confidence back before we think about playing him.

“So he does not travel with us to the Club World Cup. For Reece, I am too long a coach to get overexcited by pure dates that are maybe out there.

“I know you can have setbacks and can take longer sometimes. However, the injury was significant, and I felt it straight away. The diagnosis was straight away. It was an extensive injury, and we have to be patient from there.

“It’s always a bit of a tricky one, and he is a physical player.

“But unfortunately, he caught the flu in the last week and lost days in the process of coming back to the team.

“We are patient, and we want to have him on the pitch [on Saturday], of course, but it’s not happening at the moment, and we have to stay patient.”

Kenedy returned from a loan spell with Flamengo and will fill a void in the squad for the rest of the season.

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Thomas Tuchel said:

“It’s a clean slate, and I think he knows it.

“I followed Kenedy for many years, and I followed him when he played for Newcastle.

“He was very promising in the early part of his career, and After that, he lost track a little bit.

“And maybe couldn’t fulfil the demands from the outside I had, but this is life.

“He gets a second or third chance to be here, and it’s not about what happened. He was good in pre-season.

“Then, after that, he decided he wanted to go back to Brazil and try there.

“But having Kenedy and Emerson on loan, Kenedy was possible [to bring back], and now he is here.

“He is a lovely guy, very talented, and let’s see where he is.

“It’s a huge opportunity, and I am pleased to give it to him and help him make the best of it.”

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