With a return from injury on the horizon for Reece James, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel should be thinking about a new combination he can try out in his starting line-up.

Blues full-back James is reportedly working on his fitness at Cobham over the international break, as he recovers from a hamstring problem that’s seen him miss the last seven games across all competitions. However, the 22-year-old may reportedly be ready to make his comeback in time for the Club World Cup in mid-February.

The England international’s absence in the past month has seen Chelsea try out a back four system at times, something fairly uncommon under Tuchel. It’s opened up the door for some players to impress, though, including youngster Malang Sarr.

Versatile defender Sarr has impressed during his January appearances to show he’s far more than just a fringe player in this squad. The 23-year-old’s recent displays at left-back should prompt Tuchel into trying out an untested combination.

It would be great to see what a Chelsea XI looks like with James at right-back and teammate Sarr at left-back.

Of course, when Ben Chilwell returns from injury next season you’d suspect the Blues revert to using wing-backs. It was frightening how vital Chilwell and James became for the balance of the side with both providing great width at wing-back.

They need to find a solution for the rest of the season during Chilwell’s injury absence, though.

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New full-back partnership can be Chelsea success

James needs to be an automatic starter when fit again and has experience impressing as a traditional right-back.

There could be a great balance at full-back if defensively-minded Sarr starts on the opposite flank, too.

It’s a combination that allows the Blues to slip into a back three in possession with James stepping up the pitch and Sarr tucking in. Also, it could easily become a back five off the ball if one of the two wingers drops back.

Sarr’s emergence recently shows he’s at a good enough standard for Tuchel to rely on him moving forward, so it would be great to see how he develops with more regular minutes in the XI. For certain, the Frenchman is slowly becoming a fan favourite due to his aggression and pace.

A James-Sarr partnership is a new design Tuchel should definitely look at.

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