Mauricio Pochettino open up on Reece James despite nightmare season

Mauricio Pochettino open up on Reece James despite nightmare season

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has backed Reece James to be ‘one of the best players in the Premier League’ next season despite a nightmare campaign this time around.

The 24-year-old has managed just 10 Premier League appearances this season after suffering a serious hamstring injury in December which kept him out until this month.

He returned to the team but will miss the final game of the season on Sunday after being sent-off against Brighton in midweek.

As that was the full-back’s second red card of the campaign he has been handed a four-game ban, meaning he will miss the first three matches of next season as well.

Pochettino admits James will need the club’s support through what is a bit of a nightmare time for him, with his hopes of a late push to make the England squad for Euro 2024 looking to be dashed.

Despite all his problems, the Chelsea boss is backing his captain to bounce back and be one of the standout players in the top flight next season.

‘It was a really difficult situation. We need to help him,’ said Pochettino. ‘He needs to accept the punishment. The most important thing is we back him and trust him.

‘He needs to be ready for pre-season to build his fitness. Next season, he will be for sure one of the best players in the Premier League.’

Speaking after Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Brighton which saw James shown the straight red card for kicking out at Joao Pedro, Pochettino said the suspension is ‘painful’ for his team.

‘It’s difficult to give my opinion because I didn’t have time to see the action,’ he said. ‘But it’s painful [for us] because it’s a fantastic night of football and he’s a really important player.

‘Now he is going to miss the next game and a few games next season.’

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