Reece James missing from Chelsea squad as Graham Potter rings the changes for Southampton clash


The 23-year-old spent several months on the sidelines with a recurring knee injury but has started the Blues’ last three matches since returning – draws against Fulham and West Ham as well as Wednesday’s Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund .

According to The Athletic , James has been handed far more minutes than Chelsea had initially planned as part of his recovery and have therefore decided to leave him out against Southampton. He is not injured nor has he been left out as a precaution, but Graham Potter simply wants to manage his minutes after yet another long lay-off.

James first sustained his knee injury against AC Milan back in October – which caused him to miss the World Cup – and then reaggravated the problem in his first appearance back against Bournemouth on December 27. Chelsea hope the decision to rest James this weekend will allow him to feature prominently in next week’s trip to face Tottenham as well as the second leg of their last-16 showdown with Dortmund.

The England international is unlikely to be the only player missing from the Chelsea squad on Saturday, with several more players in line to be rested. Despite Potter’s insistence that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang does still have a role to play at Stamford Bridge this season, the Mirror are reporting that the Gabonese frontman has been left out of the 20-man matchday squad against Southampton.

According to the Mirror’s report, Aubameyang was left ‘stunned’ when he was told he would not be involved, particularly after being unregistered from the Champions League squad. There have been increasing calls for the former Arsenal and Barcelona forward to come into the side due to their struggles to convert chances into goals, and Potter had suggested he was willing to bring Aubameyang back into the fold.

‘Pierre knows the situation but he’s part of the squad. He’s an important player,’ said Potter at his Friday press conference, shortly before omitting the forward from the squad. ‘He’s worked hard and nothing is set in stone; his attitude has been really good and we will make an assessment going forward.’

On top of that, there are also suggestions that Thiago Silva, Marc Cucurella and Hakim Ziyech will not be involved either against Southampton.

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