Graham Potter has already revealed who may replace Reece James for Chelsea vs Leeds United

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Graham Potter has already revealed who may replace Reece James for Chelsea vs Leeds United

Graham Potter has had to play without Reece James in 15 matches this season, and it’s possible that he may miss another game against Leeds United on Saturday due to a tight hamstring. 

The Chelsea manager mentioned that James might not be able to play in the upcoming match, which could be a risk for the team as they have a crucial game against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. 

Since James’ workload was already being managed, it might be too much of a risk to use him against Leeds. James did not participate in Chelsea’s training on Friday.

Potter is facing a challenge in managing the team without Thiago Silva who is out for six weeks due to a knee ligament injury, and Mason Mount who is dealing with an abdomen issue. 

Although there are plenty of players to choose from, the wingback Malo Gusto, who was signed in January, is unavailable as he is on loan at Lyon and is currently recovering from an injury at Cobham.

Last season, Cesar Azpilicueta often acted as a substitute for James on the right, but he is currently undergoing concussion protocols after being knocked out in a match against Southampton in February. 

However, Potter has explored other options on the right and has not necessarily relied solely on the club captain to fulfill that role.

SportsDias takes a look at some of Graham Potter’s alternatives.

Trevoh Chalobah at right back

Chalobah was not part of the squad for the game against Spurs and only played for a total of six minutes in the matches against Fulham, West Ham, and Southampton. However, he did start in the two previous matches as a right-sided defender and was part of a defense that didn’t concede any goals against Liverpool and Crystal Palace.

Although Chalobah cannot provide the same attacking threat as James on the right wing, he can offer versatility by switching to a back three if needed, while Ziyech can play as a wingback depending on the game situation. Potter has shown a preference for a back four since the World Cup, and Chalobah’s inclusion would provide the required consistency.

Swap to a back three with Ruben Loftus-Cheek at wing-back

Another possibility would be to switch to a back three formation. Potter has previously utilized central midfielders as wingbacks, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek having played in that role under both Potter and Thomas Tuchel.

Loftus-Cheek had a notable performance as a wingback against Real Madrid last season and has shown comfort in the position when given adequate defensive support. He has also demonstrated the ability to seamlessly transition between playing as a wingback and being part of a midfield three when necessary.

Swap to a back three with a winger at wing-back

Potter has shown a willingness to give players such as Raheem Sterling, Hakim Ziyech, and Christian Pulisic the freedom to attack from the wingback position, providing an additional option for Chelsea. 

Sterling’s performances in this role have been inconsistent, with his success depending on the level of defensive responsibility given to him. He thrived in a game with little defensive responsibility against Red Bull Salzburg, but was targeted more effectively by Aston Villa in another match.

Given that Sterling has been one of Chelsea’s most dangerous attackers since returning from injury, it may not be wise to move him away from his preferred position near the opposition’s goal. However, Ziyech could be a more natural fit for the wingback role.

Despite Chelsea’s failed attempt to transfer him to PSG on deadline day, Ziyech has remained an important part of Potter’s plans and has earned his trust. In recent weeks, he has demonstrated a strong work rate both as a winger and when required to play as a wingback in defensive situations. His ability to seamlessly filter into the system has made him a valuable asset for the team.

Graham Potter has already revealed who may replace Reece James for Chelsea vs Leeds United

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