Reece James has revealed he has weekly talks 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 place in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championship.
The 21-year-old was one of four full-backs included in Southgate’s final selection. He therefore faces fierce competition for a starting place in England’s opener against Croatia on Sunday.
And the childhood Blues fan, who rose through the ranks at Stamford Bridge, explained how Cole had a huge influence on him early in his flourishing career.
“When I was young I wasn’t always a right-back,” James said at a press conference in St George’s Park.
“I was a striker. But I have always admired Frank Lampard because he played for the club that I supported, similar Ashley Cole.
“So I have always supported the boys who played for the team that I supported.
“[With Cole], we talk almost every week. He’s probably one of the best left-backs to play the game.
“Even though he was left-back, the position is basically the same, just on the other side. It helps me a lot to progress.
James’ recent appearances as Blues right-back Thomas Tuchel have provided Southgate with another option in this area, with Manchester City’s Kyle Walker being the favorite to fill the position.
And James insists playing in a three-way back doesn’t put him in phase, but has hinted that he would rather use his offensive prowess by pushing further forward.
“I’ve played at right center-back through the academy a number of times so the position was nothing new to me,” the Champions League winner told talkSPORT.
“The stance is very different from the back wing, you can’t really move forward. At the rear wing, you have the right to move forward and join in the attacks.
“But on the right side of a three, you’re kind of limited as to where you can go and what you can do.”
When asked how many different positions Southgate had played in training, James replied, “Probably the positions you could guess: winger-back, center-back and right-back.
“I’ve played all three so far. I don’t know what’s going to happen or what position I could be in.
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