'Very impressive': Thomas Tuchel says one Chelsea player has seriously caught his eye in training recently

Thomas Tuchel credited Reece James for looking so sharp in games and on the Cobham pitches despite only recently recovering from injury.

As quoted by the 5th Stand, the Chelsea manager applauded James’ excellent return to the group after his lengthy lay-off.

James tasting the juice

The defender made a full comeback last weekend away to Burnley, approaching three months since he last started a match.

He graced the Premier League once again with wings spread wide and his beak held high.

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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James scored Chelsea’s opener at Turf Moore, a fine low finish that proceeded an equally decisive piece of close control.

Kai Havertz then owed the 22-year-old for setting up his second of the afternoon, a smart cross that only needed the slightest touch to bundle the ball over the line.

Tuchel’s team finished off the contest as 4-0 victors, their largest victory for 57 days and one of their best second-half performances of the season.

The catalyst for such a display? One only has to look to Chelsea’s right flank for the answer.

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“We missed him for such a long time that you get used to it,” admitted Tuchel on being without James for so long.

“It was nine weeks and in this time we had something like 25 matches so we were constantly trying to find solutions and we did as a team.

“We managed to win games and even titles in this period but once he’s back and plays three times, today the first time from the beginning, you see what you missed.

“It’s such huge quality and very impressive how decisive he is in training and now even in the games.

Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

“These positions are very important when you play with this structure and it’s the same on the left side so its puts things into perspective when you see what we missed and I’m very happy that he came back like this.”

Had James been available for that stretch of 25 or so fixtures, Chelsea’s grip of Manchester City’s league title might not be so loose.

His and Ben Chilwell’s respective injuries can pretty much be pinpointed as the moment the Blues let Pep Guardiola’s sports car pull off into the distance.

Whilst the top-flight crown is probably out of reach for Tuchel, having one-half of his primary wing-back pairing spells good news for the rest of the campaign.

Chelsea are still fighting on three fronts, with the FA Cup and Champions League now major priorities in the hunt for more silverware.

Keep James fit and firing and the trophies will be much easier to obtain.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.