Gareth Southgate makes admissions over Arsenal and Chelsea stars who will miss World Cup

Gareth Southgate has given some context on his omission of injured Arsenal and Chelsea stars for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
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Gareth Southgate has spoken about the situation surrounding Arsenal and Chelsea stars following his squad announcement for the FIFA World Cup.

The England boss announced his 26-man squad on Thursday, and there were only a handful of talking points, with many of the selections going as expected. We found out a little earlier in the week that Chelsea star Reece James would be left out, with Southgate deciding not to risk the right-back amid his battle to return to fitness.

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Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell picked up a hamstring injury at the wrong time, and Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe was ruled out earlier in the season after picking up a long-term issue. Smith Rowe had fallen out of focus at Arsenal amid the strong performances of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, but he would still have been in contention.

And that’s something Southgate has recognised, saying: “We’ve looked at one or two others, there was a period where Emile Smith-Rowe had a go and was playing really well. We’ve sadly lost him (to injury). Obviously, we’ve lost Reece (James), but Reece was with us in the Euros. And Ben (Chilwell).”

It’s a crushing blow for all three players, and especially James, who has been putting in plenty of work in a bid to be fit on time. But ultimately, Southgate decided he would be too big a risk, also sweating on other players, who are a little further ahead in their recovery.

James said after the announcement: “The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always felt it was possible. I’ve worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going and truly believed I could help the team. I appreciate there was risk on both sides but it was one I was willing to take. Good luck to the boys. I’ll be back soon. Stay safe and sending love.”

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Since then, Chelsea boss Graham Potter has added: “He’s tried his best, it was a blow, a blow for him of course, a blow for England and a blow for us. He came off against Milan and at that point everything was looking okay, of course a world class player like Reece we miss. So now it’s just about trying to I suppose give him the perspective that he’s got a long career ahead, a big career ahead and a lot of time. But there’s not too much you can say at the moment when there’s a World Cup and he wants to play.”

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