Having been stretchered off during an England U20 match at the Toulon Tournament, Chelsea’s Reece James is now set to miss the start of next season through injury.
It was first feared that the right-back had broken his ankle with the Young Lions, but a scan later revealed that he had just suffered ankle ligament damage.
However, the 19-year-old will still miss up to three months meaning that he will surely be absent from a large portion of pre-season and most likely the start of the Blues’ Premier League campaign in August.
Up until his injury blow, James was threatening to break his cycle of loans at Stamford Bridge and be permenantly involved in the senior set-up a lot sooner than was expected.
He impressed highly on loan at Wigan Athletic last term, helping the Latics to finish safely in the mid-table of the Sky Bet Championship in their first term back in the division. His performances have also meant that he has attracted interest from elsewhere as the summer transfer window kicks into full swing.
Normally an injury of this nature to a teenager wouldn’t cause much worry to anyone associated with the club – he has plenty of time to recover and come back stronger.
But this is no ordinary time in west London with Maurizio Sarri set to join Juventus and the Pensioners unable to sign any players for the next two windows under a FIFA-imposed embargo, as things stand.
And in fact, James’ injury set-back means that what should be the next Chelsea manager’s top priority just got a hell of a lot harder.
You see the only way that the Blues side can be evolved for the time being is by bringing youth players, many of whom are still out on loan, through into the first team.
Luckily for them, the Stamford Bridge outfit are not lacking in options in this regard, though some of the best are now injured with James joining the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the treatment table.
Whoever takes up the reins if Sarri departs is going to find it extremely hard to integrate youth when many of the greatest prospects at the club are unavailable for some time after they arrive.
The situation in SW6 seems to be getting worse by the hour and the Bridge faithful may need to bottle up as much patience as possible to cope with 2019/2020.