Chelsea wing-back Reece James will not travel with the rest of the squad for the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup, with the competition coming too soon for him after he suffered a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury.
The England international was forced off in the 1-1 draw with Brighton at Stamford Bridge on 29 December and scans revealed he had torn his hamstring. Chelsea have won just once in the Premier League in the weeks since, with dropped points against Liverpool, Man City and Brighton once again leaving their title challenge in tatters.
After a month out, James had been expected to rejoin team training in time to feature at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, but a bout of flu has set him back in his recovery.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of hosting Plymouth in the FA Cup fourth round, Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel revealed the 22-year-old faces at least another fortnight on the sidelines.
“He [James] is not in team training yet, so maybe that answers the question,” the German said. “After a couple of weeks, he will need some time in team training to get the confidence back. He does not travel with us to the Club World Cup.”
He continued: “I am too long a coach to not get overexcited by pure dates that are maybe out there. I know you can have setbacks and can take long sometimes. The injury was a big injury and I felt it straight away. The diagnosis was straight away it was a big injury and from there we have to be patient.
“It’s always a bit of a tricky one and he is a physical player. He caught flu in the last week and lost days in his process of coming back to the team.