England right back Reece James confirmed on Wednesday he will not be a part of the England team at the World Cup in Qatar due to a knee injury, further depleting manager Gareth Southgate’s options in defence.
Chelsea’s James had stolen ahead of a packed field to make his spot on the right of England’s back five his own, but a knee injury picked up on October 11 against AC Milan ruled him out for eight weeks.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Chelsea manager Graham Potter had said James was only taking part in light training.
The 22-year-old James, who has 15 caps, said he was “devastated” to miss the cut from Southgate’s 26-man squad for the tournament, which is due to be announced on Thursday.
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, who has fulfilled both the right-sided centre back role and wing-back position for England, has not played since October since undergoing groin surgery while midfielder Kalvin Phillips is also in a race to be fit.
On the other flank, James’s Chelsea teammate Ben Chilwell has already been ruled out of the tournament after sustaining a hamstring injury last week.
James’s injury has raised the prospect of Trent Alexander-Arnold being included despite his patchy form at Liverpool, while Newcastle United’s Kieran Tripper is also available in the right back position.
England open their World Cup campaign against Iran on 21 November.