Thomas Tuchel hails ‘brilliant’ Chelsea defender Reece James

Thomas Tuchel has admitted Reece James is so good he would love to pick him twice.

Chelsea boss Tuchel conceded he cannot decide whether England defender James is better at right wing-back or right centre-back.

James missed two months at the turn of the year through hamstring trouble, only to be sidelined again with a recurrence in March.

Tuchel revealed deploying James on the right of a three-man defence has not only helped combat standout left-sided stars in recent weeks, but also helped keep the 22-year-old fresh.

Thomas Tuchel file photo
Thomas Tuchel, pictured, has heaped praise on Reece James (Joe Giddens/PA)

“He can play both positions brilliantly, but we can only select him once,” said Tuchel.

“I think that the back three is a little bit less demanding physically, in comparison to the wing-back position and given that he comes back from a long injury, a re-injury over so many weeks.

“It’s a bit of an advantage to have him in the back-three because it’s less demanding physically.

“This is anyway the next step, how many games can he play as a wing-back, if he plays wing-back during a season, reliable on a level where he’s decisive.

“It’s a bit less demanding physically in the back-three in terms of accelerations, long accelerations and high speed.

“That helps us to have him on the pitch for more minutes, and that’s why he plays in there. So we need to decide, but that’s the reason at the moment.”

Asked which is James’ best position, Tuchel added: “I’m not sure. I love him in both positions I have to say.”

Chelsea will host Arsenal in Wednesday’s Premier League encounter where victory would push the Blues ever closer to a third-place finish.

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The Blues must do without Mateo Kovacic, who will miss at least a fortnight with ankle ligament trouble.

Callum Hudson-Odoi remains sidelined with a back problem, but is on the road to recovery, while Ben Chilwell will not play this season in his long-term rehabilitation after knee surgery.

“Kova is out for the game with a ligament injury, and hopefully that will be not longer than two weeks, hopefully,” said Tuchel. “Two weeks can be a long time for us in terms of games however.

“Callum Hudson-Odoi is out for the game, and Ben Chilwell is out of course, and some other players are in doubt which we need to be examining, but hopefully the rest will be okay.”