Reece James: Injuries Affect His Football Career

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Athletes suffer from injuries from time to time but when it becomes a recurring issue, it can potentially shorten their careers. English footballer Reece James’ is a regular visitor to the doctor’s office. This season, he’s only played eight games and limped out during Chelsea’s defeat at Everton. 

James is Chelsea’s captain and one of England’s hopefuls. He’s been praised for his work ethic and dominance at the back and on the wing.  Let’s look at his career.

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Reece James’ Early Career

spotcovery-Reece James in the preseason with Chelsea
Reece James in the preseason with Chelsea. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

Reece comes from a footballing family. His father is a football coach, and his sister, Lauren James, is a footballer. He joined the Chelsea academy at six and spent some time at Fulham. The footballer started as a striker but was moved to the midfield. 

He played in the youth setup between 2008 and 2018, when he joined the senior side. He led the youth team to an FA Cup victory and was the player of the season.

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Professional Career

James signed a four-year contract at Chelsea and was loaned to Wigan Athletic. He played 45 games, scored three goals and was the league’s Player of the Year. He also made it into the Championship team of the Season. 

In 2019, he debuted for the senior side and scored a goal in the team’s EFL Cup win. His form in the side improved, and got opportunities to play in big games such as the UEFA Champions League

He’s the youngest player in Chelsea to score in the competition in a game against Ajax. His first Premier League game was against Newcastle, and scored his first goal against Brighton & Hove Albion.

In between the seasons, Chelsea had a frequent change of managers. In 2021, the club won its second title under German coach Thomas Tuchel. He played against Manchester City and won 1-0 his first Champions League title. 

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Injuries

James cemented his place as a starter in the lineup but injuries threaten his progress. After s good 2021, where he became the PFA Young Player of the Year, he suffered a knee injury in 2022 and, on his return, was sidelined again. This saw him miss the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

In April 2023, the English player missed the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury. In the same year, the right-back took over the club’s captaincy after the departure of longtime Chelsea player Cesar Azpilicueta. However, he didn’t have much action on the pitch because of injuries. His hamstring problem recurred. 

In the 2024 season, the captain has suffered another hamstring problem that will reportedly keep him out for three months. This latest setback sees him suffer a seventh hamstring that’s forced him to miss 35 games since 2020. The defender & midfielder admits that the persistent injuries have mentally affected him. 

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Should Reece James Be Worried?

Looking into Reece James’ injuries. Video Credit: ESPN

In modern football, things move fast, and the more injury-prone you are, you might be playing catch up and by the time you recover, another player might have emerged making it difficult to retain your position. 

The frequency of Reece James’ injuries has been narrowed down to two possibilities. The first is the frequency with which the club changes managers. 

This affects players because they have to adapt to different demands. The other is the history of injury. He’s had multiple hamstring injuries, which makes him vulnerable. 

Can he get back to fitness? An expert speaking to The Athletic says he can regain his level of performance in 400 to 500 minutes.

Reece James is one of the stars of English football. Sadly, he’s dealing with persistent injuries and fans will begin to worry whether they’ll ever watch him at his fullest potential again. 

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