The former Blues star believes a highly-rated academy graduate at Stamford Bridge will challenge Liverpool’s right-back for international recognition
Reece James will soon be “pushing Trent Alexander-Arnold all the way” when it comes to England’s right-back spot, says Joe Cole, with the Chelsea defender considered to be “different class”.
A 20-year-old academy graduate at Stamford Bridge is enjoying a breakout season on a Premier League stage.
Having unlocked further potential during a productive loan spell at Wigan in 2018-19, the highly-rated youngster is among those to have been given a chance by Frank Lampard in west London.
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Despite facing competition from the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta for regular game time, James has been able to take in 23 appearances across all competitions.
He has caught the eye in those, with his delivery from the flanks earning comparisons to England legend David Beckham.
The same has been said of Liverpool star Alexander-Arnold on a regular basis, with the Reds full-back looking to set a new Premier League record this term after contributing another 12 assists.
He is considered to be the leading contender for a place on the right of England’s defensive unit, with Gareth Southgate well-stocked in that department, but Cole says James is set to come into the reckoning.
The former Chelsea and Three Lions midfielder told BT Sport: “He’s different class, Reece, people talk about his delivery but he’s very rarely out of position defensively, he’s a strong lad, he’s cold, he’s calculated in his play.
“He’s been one of Chelsea’s most consistent players over the last few weeks. He’s going to be pushing Trent all the way.
“When he gets the ball you feel safe in any position. He just puts balls into the area, it’s inviting if you’re a striker.
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“Maybe there will have to be a system change because this guy could be playing for England very, very soon.”
Southgate is currently in the process of piecing together his plans for friendly outings against Italy and Denmark in March.
The England boss is expected to experiment within his next squad, as one eye is turned to the future once more, and it could be that James steps up out of the U-21 ranks and into the senior fold.