'Put him back': Tuchel shares which position he plans to use 22-year-old Chelsea star in moving forward

Thomas Tuchel has shared that he plans to play Chelsea star Reece James as a wing-back moving forward, despite using him in midfield last night in the Champions League.

James, 22, stepped in as a central midfielder during Chelsea’s 3-3 draw away to Zenit St Petersburg in midweek. The result means the Blues finish as runners-up in their Champions League group, so now face a nervous wait for the last-16 draw.

With four recognised central midfielders absent against Zenit, Chelsea manager Tuchel had to get creative with his team selection.

James, who’s been outstanding as the club’s right wing-back in 2021, showed his versatility by dropping into the centre of the park. His midfield performance earned rave reviews from ex-England international Owen Haregreaves, too.

Tuchel revaled in his post-match press conference that using James in midfield was only a short-term fix.

“Of course, but I expect normally N’Golo (Kante), Mateo (Kovacic), Jorgi and Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) to start in midfield and they are all out today so we need to be a bit creative and put Reecey in there,” Tuchel said.

“We knew about the quality in central midfield and wanted to have some physicality. That’s why he helped us there today but the target is to put him back on the wing. For this, we need players back who can play in central midfield.”

Photo by Igor Russak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

James vital to Chelsea system

James showed he’s more than capable of carrying himself in midfield. However, the Blues can’t afford to lose his presence in his natural role..

Of course, his attacking contributions this season speak for themselves. He’s scored five goals and made five assists in all competitions so far this season.

In addition, he’s brilliant with his defensive work when tucking in at the far post.

It’s so difficult for wingers to take him on given his power and pace, so it’s a massive loss to Chelsea when he’s not dominating one entire flank of the pitch.

Tuchel will be hoping for some good news on his midfielders ahead of the weekend’s Premier League game against Leeds United.

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A sports journalist who graduated from Staffordshire University in 2016 and is a Chelsea supporter. Loves anything football or cricket related when it comes to England.