Reece James and Ben Chilwell on track for Euro 2024 – Mauricio Pochettino

The Chelsea duo have endured injury-hit seasons.

Ben Chilwell and Reece James are expected to be fit for Euro 2024
Ben Chilwell and Reece James are expected to be fit for Euro 2024 (Nick Potts/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino expects Reece James and Ben Chilwell to be available for inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s preliminary Euro 2024 squad next week and takes pride in seeing Chelsea players turn out for England.

On Saturday James made his first appearance since undergoing surgery on the hamstring injury he suffered in December, setting up a late winner in the team’s 3-2 victory at Nottingham Forest, while Chilwell could return to the bench for Wednesday’s trip to Brighton having played only 10 first-team minutes since early March.

James missed the 2022 World Cup and, after two seasons that have been badly disrupted by recurring injuries, has been in a race against time to be fit for this summer’s tournament in Germany.

Chilwell has also endured a fractured campaign but was named in Southgate’s two most recent starting XIs, for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley in March, though he has featured just once for Chelsea since.

Asked whether he would be ready in time for summer, Pochettino said: “Yes, I think so. We need to assess whether he can be in the squad for tomorrow, but maybe for the weekend (against Bournemouth) he can be available.

“If he is available I think he can go very quick and be part of it, if the national team and Gareth Southgate thinks it’s possible, he can be.

“(James) is training really well. Now we need to control also the game time, because we want this to finish the season really strong. We hope (Wednesday) he will have the possibility to play.”

Mauricio Pochettino said he takes pride in seeing Chelsea players represent England
Mauricio Pochettino said he takes pride in seeing Chelsea players represent England (Mike Egerton/PA)

A turbulent season for Chelsea could end with as many as four of their players involved for England in Germany, with Conor Gallagher and Cole Palmer also in contention to be named in Southgate’s provisional 26-man squad on May 21.

Palmer is the Premier League’s leading English scorer with 21 goals and has been a revelation since joining from Manchester City in the summer whilst Gallagher has been an integral part of Pochettino’s midfield, captaining the team in the absence of James and Chilwell.

In a departure from the reluctance sometimes felt by club managers towards their stars being thrown into the international arena after injury, the Argentinian said he believed providing players for the England team was a way for foreign coaches to “repay” what the game in this country has given them.

“When I arrived at Southampton (in 2013) it was something I always felt really proud of, to provide players to the national team, because we are so grateful to English football and you all,” he said.

“The way that (the country) received us and the welcome. The way that you make us feel, being from another country to here. The way that we can repay you all is to try to respect the identity of the country, the identity of the culture of football, and to respect English football through the players.

“We love the English culture. In every single club, we want to be grateful through giving the possibility to English football to have talented players.

“The way English people treated us when we were at Southampton and Tottenham and here, always it’s really an amazing thing. Not only us, our families, the way they feel here.

“That is why I feel home when I am in England.”