Paul Merson believes that Chelsea defender Reece James is going to be a “special” player, but feels it will be difficult for him to make his breakthrough next season.

The right-back impressed last season during a loan spell with Wigan Athletic in the Championship, where he made 46 appearances across all competitions and was their standout performer.

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His best position is in the full-back spot, but proved with Wigan he’s got the versatility and maturity to slot into midfield too if needed.

Sky Sports pundit Merson is well aware of rising star James, but isn’t sure if he’ll make a serious senior breakthrough in Frank Lampard’s squad next season due to the high stakes at Stamford Bridge.

“Reece James will be special but is he going to take [Cesar] Azpilicueta’s place at moment? I don’t think so,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“If you are Frank and you’re throwing these youngsters in, you still need to finish in the top four.”

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There are a handful of promising talents that Chelsea fans are desperate to see promoted to the first-team next season and James should be high on that list.

James is ready to step up to the Premier League after looking a class act in the Championship and he’s got the physicality to cope.

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It would make perfect sense for him to be the understudy to Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back in the new season and head coach Lampard has already stressed his desire to promote youth.

He did unfortunately suffer an injury during the summer while representing England’s Under-20s side at the Toulon Tournament, which means he will miss three months (Football.London).

James has come through the academy ranks at Chelsea and he is someone that is ready to make a surprise impact at senior level.

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