Despite earning a red card after the final whistle for descent, Chelsea’s Reece James received big praise from England manager Gareth Southgate for his midweek performance.
England were beaten 1-0 at Wembley by Denmark in a Nations League tie on Wednesday, which ended a run of seven international fixtures without defeat.
The Three Lions were at a numerical disadvantage when Harry Maguire was sent off after half an hour and the winner came shortly after from Christian Eriksen’s first-half penalty.
It was a frustrating night for England where they were nowhere near their best, but Chelsea defender James was arguably man of the match for his country and impressed on his first start.
The 20-year-old was used in a right wing-back position by Southgate and he delivered so many good crosses into the penalty area, but unfortunately there were no forwards on the end of them.
He was only drafted into the senior England squad for this month’s international break and made his debut off the bench against Wales in a friendly, before another late cameo at the weekend against Belgium.
The Blues full-back made the most of his opportunity against Denmark with a great all-action display, which unfortunately was overshadowed by his ill-discipline late on.
Southgate remained positive about James’ performance in his post-match interview and it looks like he’s done his chances of more game-time no harm moving forward.
“The referee says he’s sent him off for descent so it’s a lesson he needs to learn, he’s a young player, but I thought he had an incredible debut,” Southgate told Sky Sports’ Main Event Channel (10:25pm, 14 October).
“He’s impressed me all week. Until that moment he had shown great maturity. His quality of play, in the first-half him and [Mason] Mason down the right hand side combined brilliantly with Kyle Walker.”
James is likely to still be behind Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold in the pecking order for England, but it was the Chelsea talent that looked far more effective in a wing-back position and it may depend on what system Southgate wants to use.
It was very unlike James to lose his head on the pitch and he will learn from it, but he’s now going to return to Stamford Bridge to compete with club captain Cesar Azpilicueta for his starting position.