James must wait for Chelsea return

Chelsea defender Reece James

Reece James appears to be some way from a return for Chelsea.

The England international has been out since suffering a hamstring injury against Brighton on 29 December.

And boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that James is not yet ready to resume full training.

It means he will remain sidelined for Saturday’s game at Crystal Palace and next week’s Champions League clash with Lille.

Mason Mount, who has an ankle injury, will also miss those matches and Chelsea are hoping he will be back for the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on February 27.

“We will push for the League Cup final,” Tuchel said.

“Mason has injured ligaments. It happened in the very first minutes of the (World Club Cup) final. We will try hard for the League Cup final.”

Mount hopes to return at Wembley

James’ comeback has been delayed partly by a recent illness. Chelsea hope he will join the rest of the squad for training next week.

“It (James’ absence) is too long for all of us – for us and for Reece. We miss him a lot,” Tuchel said.

“I had the feeling right from the start that we had to deal with a big injury. Unfortunately my feeling is right.

“He had a little bit of a setback because he caught the flu in a moment when he was very close to rejoining team training.


“You always have the risk with a very physical player like Reece that when you have a muscle injury you have to consider that sometimes there is a delay in the comeback.

“He is still in individual training, progressing a lot, and the plan is that he rejoins the group next week.”

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is fit again and available to take his place in the squad against Palace.

Loftus-Cheek missed the recent FA Cup tie against Plymouth and the World Club Cup because he was struggling with an Achilles problem.

The injury was apparently unrelated to Loftus-Cheek’s previous ruptured Achilles tendon.

“It was a separate issue,” Tuchel explained.

“It was very painful and a kind of inflammation – not a big injury, but painful.

“Since we are back he feels strong and I can see that he feels free.

“He had an excellent training week and is available for the game.”