Tonight’s friendly against Ireland may not be capturing the imagination of your average England supporter but for Reece James it represents another big opportunity to stake a claim for one of the most in-demand jobs in international football.
The Chelsea youngster is banned for the Nations League games against Belgium and Iceland meaning he is certain to feature in Gareth Southgate’s side tonight.
Five players could rightly stake a claim for the role come the start of European Championship next June and it is hard to think of many other national teams with such depth in one specific position apart from maybe France and centre backs.
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While Trent Alexander-Arnold has looked like first-choice for the past year, his recent absences have opened the door.
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is still clinging on as the experienced option, while Kieran Trippier must not be forgotten because he is playing for Atletico Madrid.
Tariq Lamptey’s rapid rise since joining Brighton and Hove Albion from Chelsea in January cannot be discounted either and Aaron Wan-Bissaka has slid towards the periphery but could easily find some form at Manchester United to re-enter the reckoning.
James is on a sharp development curve, though, and his recent performances for Chelsea point to a player with the potential to reach the very top.
“His progress is phenomenal. When he played at Wigan in the Championship, I watched him closely and tried to take him to Derby in that January window and it didn’t happen,” Frank Lampard said recently.
“So I’ve always been a big fan of his natural talent. There are things he’ll want to improve on his game and that I think he can improve on his game.
“And the great thing about Reece and a lot of the other younger players at the club is that they are very open to…