Rio Ferdinand and Glenn Hoddle concurred that Reece James could play as a centre-back for Chelsea and England later on in his career.

Speaking on Between The Lines, Hoddle, Ferdinand and Joe Cole were assembling their England European Championship squad for the summer.

Gareth Southgate will have to be making this difficult decision for real in a week’s time.

One of his biggest headaches will be who to select at right back.

A report from The Athletic suggested that Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was set to miss out, with James one of those to take his place.


England v Belgium - UEFA Nations League
(Photo by Neil Hall – Pool/Getty Images)

However, Hoddle and Ferdinand felt that the 21-year-old Chelsea academy product could easily be deployed as a central defender in a back three if required.

“I’ve seen Reece James play that role at a younger age; he was outstanding,” admitted Hoddle, a former England and Blues boss.

“Obviously, this is a bit different. With his experience, he could play that position. I think eventually he could play there.”

“I see Reece James playing in that position,” agreed Ferdinand.

“If you want to play a three and be able to come out and be comfortable in wide areas.”

Chelsea v Leicester City: The Emirates FA Cup Final
(Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Playing in a back three is nothing new to James.

Thomas Tuchel used him there during last weekend’s FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City.

Although he put on a solid performance, Chelsea lost some of their attacking threat with Cesar Azpilicueta at wing-back instead.

Whether Southgate sees James in the same vein as Tuchel is another debate.

England’s manager has mainly used the Blues star as a full-back or wing-back in the six games he’s been capped for his country.

England v San Marino - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
(Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

But in tournament football, positionally flexibility is so crucial, particularly if players get injured.

Before people can start thinking about formations and roles, James has to secure his place in the Three Lions pack first.

Chronicle View

 I think Hoddle and Ferdinand are absolutely spot on.

James has got the strength and speed to play in a back three, but also the full-back awareness to cover in wide areas.

Chelsea are so desperate to sign a new centre-half. What if they have a ready-made one on their doorstep?

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