According to Mario Melchiot, Reece James “can compete” with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for the coveted right-back spot on England’s Gareth Southgate squad.

After a successful loan spell at Wigan Athletic, James returned to Chelsea last summer and was promptly promoted to a senior role following Frank Lampard ‘s appointment as head coach.

In September, the 20-year-old made his first-team debut and has since racked up 28 appearances across all competitions, scoring two goals.

If he continues on his current trajectory, having already represented his country at U21 level, the young defender has been tipped to earn a call-up to England squad.

With Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold and Manchester United star Wan Bissaka deemed masters of their craft, Southgate is still spoilt for choice when it comes to right-backs. Another good option for the England boss is Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid, but Melchiot thinks James is already able to break into the team ahead of the trio.

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The ex-Chelsea defender told Talksport: “I ‘m excited about him and the way he plays when you’re talking about Alexander-Arnold. He’s comfortable switching the play around. Wan-Bissaka is more protective, but he has the skill of Reece James, he has the stamina, he has the agility to keep up with people and he knows how to do it. There are still a few things that he needs to add to his game, but if he can become a regular with Chelsea he can compete with those two guys and why wouldn’t he want to do so? That’s why we’re playing football-competing with the best.”

James’ progress at Chelsea was interrupted by March’s coronavirus outbreak, which called for a temporary halt to the football calendar across all the major leagues across Europe. The Premier League was however cleared to resume after a three-month hiatus from June 17, and the Blues are now back in full contact training ahead of a meeting with Aston Villa on June 21.

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