'I don't get it': TalkSPORT pundit questions what Gareth Southgate did with 22-year-old Chelsea star

Tony Cottee has questioned the thinking behind England manager Gareth Southgate playing Chelsea star Reece James at left-back against Hungary.

England suffered a humiliating 4-0 home defeat last night against Hungary in the Nations League, which has understandably received a strong backlash in the media.

From a Chelsea perspective, there was certainly plenty to be aware of.

First of all, Blues midfielder Conor Gallagher showed flashes of quality after starting for the Three Lions. Elsewhere, Mason Mount came on during the second half for yet another England cap.

The decision to play Chelsea wing-back James on the left of defence was the most interesting aspect, though.

Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Reece James playing left-back

England started with a back four in yesterday’s loss to Hungary, which included Chelsea’s James in an unfamiliar left-back role. Eventually, he did end up switching to his common right wing-back position during the second half after a change of shape.

James was one of the brighter performers on a night to forget in the Nations League.

The 22-year-old pushed high up the pitch on the left and had a couple of promising attacking moments, albeit he was much more comfortable in the second period on the right.

TalkSPORT pundit Cottee wasn’t a fan of the Chelsea man playing in his opposite full-back role.

“I like a back four, but to do that you probably need Chilwell at left-back,” Cottee told talkSPORT when discussing England.

“I mean, playing [Kieran] Trippier and Reece James at left-back, a right-footed left-back, I don’t get it. Are you telling me there’s not a young left-back that can come in and play?”

Photo by Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

England dilemma

Unfortunately, the area of the pitch for England with the most talent available is a pretty specialist role.

Southgate can only play one of Walker, James, Trippier or Trent Alexander-Arnold as his right full-back. He can sometimes use a combination if one drops into a centre-back position in a back three, too.

Despite the experiment, England look a lot less fluent and dangerous when one of their right-backs is shoehorned into the XI on the left.

They need to pick a left-footer at left-back, something which will become easier moving forward with Ben Chilwell making a return from a long-term injury.

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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.