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England’s Kyle Walker says Reece James is best right back in the world

Man City captain says Chelsea counterpart is most complete player in the position on earth

Reece James

Kyle Walker says England head to Euro 2024 without the best right back in the world.

The Man City skipper claims Chelsea’s Reece James is the ‘most complete player’ in the position on earth.

The 24-year-old Blues captain played just five Premier League games this season after another campaign beset by injury problems.

Gareth Southgate chose to leave James – who has 16 caps and was part of the Euro 2020 squad – out of his 33-strong provisional squad for this summer’s tournament in Germany, preferring Walker, Kieran Trippier and Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.

Speaking on his new BBC podcast – You’ll Never Beat Kyle Walker – Walker, who turned 34 on Tuesday, claimed James was the best right-back in the world.

He said: “He’s just got everything. Everything. If I could make the complete right-back, it would be him. He can defend, attack, he’s technical, can use both feet, he’s a threat at dead-ball situations, he’s quick…

‘I think if I was to build the perfect right back, I would go with my strength, [Achraf] Hakimi’s pace, [Joao] Cancelo’s technical ability, Trent’s [Alexander-Arnold] passing, [Dani] Carvajal’s mentality and I think Reece James’ football brain because he obviously played in midfield for a long time.

‘But if I was to round all of them up, I’d say it would be Reece. He gives you a little bit of everything.’

James will miss the first three games of the 2024/25 season after picking up his second red card of his ill-fated campaign in Chelsea’s penultimate game against Brighton.

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson predicted England might suffer from not having both Walker and James in their squad for Germany, where they will face Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in the group stage.

“I think (James) is one of the best in the business,” Merson said. “I know he’s had a long injury but [Luke] Shaw’s been out a long time. I’m quite shocked.

“Kyle Walker plays at right-back but if you bring Reece James as well it opens it up into playing a three at the back sometimes. You might want to play three at the back against better teams.

“Reece James is one of the best wing-backs about. And then if he goes to right-back, you can put Walker into centre-half and then we might have to chase a game against someone, you’ve got Walker’s pace at the back.”

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.