Chelsea defender Reece James has been charged by the FA for an altercation with the match officials following his side’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, despite not actually being a part of Mauricio Pochettino’s matchday squad for the clash.
The 23-year-old fullback has played just 75 minutes of Premier League football this season, with a hamstring injury picked up in the season opener against Liverpool continuing to rule him out of helping the Blues turn round a disastrous start to the season.
Currently 14th, they suffered another defeat at the hands of European hopefuls Aston Villa as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge courtesy of a Ollie Watkins goal.
It was not a game without controversy, with James’ replacement Malo Gusto seeing red for a high tackle despite winning the ball first, something that left plenty of onlookers incensed.
On Wednesday evening, it emerged that James had also been to give the referee a piece of his mind after the game. As per an FA Statement, ‘It is alleged that the defender used improper and/or insulting and/or abusive words and/or behaviour towards a match official in the tunnel after the game.’
James, they added, has until Friday to respond to the charges, though the likely outcome for the defender will be a fine were he to be found guilty rather than any on-the-pitch ban.
The England defender and Blues skipper is expected to be fit in the coming weeks, and is thought to be targetting a return against Arsenal, though it leaves Pochettino with a conundrum following Gusto’s red card.
As it stands, Axel Disasi is the favourite to fill in at right-back for the Blues, with Thiago Silva partnering one of Levi Colwill or the returning Benoit Badiashile in the heart of defence.