Gareth Southgate says Chelsea’s Reece James is a “strong contender” to force his way to the top of England’s pile of right-backs.

James was a surprise inclusion in Southgate’s 29-man squad on Thursday, despite being suspended for two of this month’s three internationals.

The 20-year-old was one of five right-backs selected – along with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles – and Southgate is also keeping tabs on Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey and Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The England manager says James made a huge impression on his maiden call-up last month and described him as an example to every young player.

“What he did was grab the opportunity with both hands,” Southgate told Standard Sport. 

“Sometimes players do that and sometimes young players don’t necessarily have the confidence to come in and immediately play at their very best. Continue reading 

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