Paul Merson: Southgate should have taken Reece James to the World Cup

‘We aren’t going to win the World Cup without having Reece James in the team’: Paul Merson believes Gareth Southgate should have taken the injured Chelsea defender for the latter stages

  • Paul Merson thinks that England cannot win the World Cup without Reece James 
  • The pundit believes Gareth Southgate should have picked the injured defender
  • James would have been useful for the latter stages, according to Merson 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Paul Merson said England cannot win the World Cup without Reece James, and slammed his omission from the 26-man squad.

The Chelsea defender is out with a knee injury, and while he endeavoured to be back in time for the tournament, Gareth Southgate went with other options.

Merson said that he felt this England side would not win the trophy without the 22-year-old, and that national captain Harry Kane would have selected in similar circumstances for the latter stages alone.

Reece James should have been selected for England’s 26-man squad, Paul Merson claimed

Merson believes the Three Lions cannot win without James in the squad to boost the defence

In his column for the Daily Star, the 54-year-old Arsenal legend said: ‘If it was Harry Kane he would be going – what’s the difference? We aren’t going to win the World Cup without having James in the team.

‘He is a shoo-in to start and if we took him, he plays in England’s team every day of the week. He is one of our best players.

‘If it was Kane, they would say ‘right we’ll take him and use him after the group stages’.

James is out with a knee problem, and despite attempts to return, was not named in the squad

Merson said he just didn’t ‘understand’ the omission, claiming ‘we are as bad as anybody at the back, so we need to take one of our best players’.

He claimed that Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold would step up to see England through the group stages, giving James time to recover for the knockout stages. James had stated he was in recovery, with an eye to being part of the World Cup squad.

‘Reading his statement, he feels like he is going to be fit in a few week’s time,’ Merson continued. ‘Now I would have only used him in the knockout stages anyway.

Merson felt that Trent Alexander-Arnold would be a liability for England in the knockout phase

‘I’d have wrapped him up in cotton wool because you can use Trent Alexander-Arnold in the group stages where you have 70 per cent of the ball and he’s going to look a world-beater.

‘Then when we come up against France and he falls asleep and Kylian Mbappe scores we’ll all be scratching our heads. I am shocked.’

England’s World Cup campaign, without Reece James, begins on Monday November 21 against Iran, before other group stage games against the USA and Wales.

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