Reece James reveals Ashley Cole’s weekly influence as Chelsea defender discusses possible roles at Euro 2020


Reece James has revealed that he has weekly discussions with Chelsea and England legend Ashley Cole as the youngster prepares for his first major tournament with his country.

James was rewarded for his brilliant club form with a spot in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championship.

James has every reason to smile right now after an incredible end to the domestic winner

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James has every reason to smile right now after an incredible end to the domestic winner

The 21-year-old was one of four full-backs included in Southgate’s final selection, so faces fierce competition for a starting berth in England’s opening match against Croatia on Sunday.

And the boyhood Blues fan, who has risen through the ranks at Stamford Bridge, discussed how Cole has had a huge influence on him in the early stages of his blossoming career.

“When I was young I wasn’t always a right back,” James said at a media conference at St George’s Park.

“I was a striker. But I’ve always looked up to Frank Lampard because he played for the club I supported, Ashley Cole similar.

“So I’ve always supported the boys who played for the team I supported.

The recently-acclaimed Champions League winner is in serious contention to start for England

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The recently-acclaimed Champions League winner is in serious contention to start for England

“[With Cole], we speak nearly every week. He’s probably one of the best left-backs to play the game.

“Even though he was a left-back the position is basically the same, just on the opposite side. He helps me a lot progressing.”

James’ recent appearances as the right-sided defender for Thomas Tuchel’s Blues has provided Southgate with another option in that area, with Manchester City’s Kyle Walker the favourite to occupy that position.

And James insists that playing in a back three doesn’t phase him, but hinted he would rather be utilising his attacking prowess by pushing further forward.

“I played right-sided centre back many times coming through the academy, so the position wasn’t new to me,” the Champions League winner told talkSPORT.

James, who has been with Chelsea since the age of six, has revealed that Cole has had a major influence on him

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James, who has been with Chelsea since the age of six, has revealed that Cole has had a major influence on him

Cole won everything at Chelsea – including the Champions League in 2012

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Cole won everything at Chelsea – including the Champions League in 2012

“The position is much different to wing-back, you can’t really go forward. At wing-back you have the licence to push on and join in on the attacks.

“But the right side of a three you’re kind of limited to where you can go and what you can do.”

Asked how many different positions Southgate has played him in training, James responded: “Probably the positions you could guess: wing-back, centre-back and right-back.

“I’ve played all three so far. I don’t know what’s going to happen or what position I might feature in.”

talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 will have live commentary of EVERY game of Euro 2020. You won’t miss a thing as we bring you round the clock coverage, reaction and analysis from June 11-July 11. Listen online HERE.


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