Gareth Southgate believes Reece James has set a ‘brilliant example’ to young players hoping to break the England set-up but says the Chelsea full-back has ‘got to learn’ from his sending off after the side’s defeat to Denmark.
James has held onto his place in the squad, but will only be available for England’s friendly with the Republic or Ireland and must miss the side’s Nations League clashes with Belgium and Iceland as a consequence of his red card at Wembley.
The 20-year-old received his first call-up last month following an injury to Raheem Sterling and came on for his debut in England’s friendly with Wales, which finished 3-0 in favour of Southgate’s men.
He then made his competitive debut in England’s Nations League victory over Belgium before starting for the first time as the Three Lions lost at home to Denmark.
The match got off to a nightmare start for the hosts as Harry Maguire was sent off for a pair of reckless challenges before Christian Eriksen converted from the penalty spot.
And James was shown a red card for dissent shortly after the final whistle which just added to an already miserable afternoon from an England perspective.
Gareth Southgate’s squad for England’s triple-header
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Joe Gomez, Reece James, Michael Keane, Harry Maguire, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Tyrone Mings, Bukayo Saka, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse, Harry Winks.
Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling.
However, Southgate defended his decision to stick with James as he named his squad on Thursday and praised the defender for ‘grabbing his opportunity with both hands’.
‘We thought he did so well, not only in the matches with us last month, but in the training sessions as well,’ the England head coach explained at his press conference.
‘We knew there was a good player there. We weren’t certain about bringing him in at the start because we’ve got huge competition in that area of the pitch.
‘But it was a good opportunity to look at him and he grabbed that opportunity.
‘It was a brilliant example to any player coming in that if you get the opportunity to train with the train well.
‘If you get the opportunity to be on the field for 10-15 minutes, do that well.
‘And then you gain trust and you get more opportunities to show what you can do and I thought he grabbed that with both hands last time round.’
Southgate added: ‘He’s got to learn from what happened at the end of the Denmark game.
‘He knows that wasn’t acceptable and he misses the chance to play in the qualifying matches this time.
‘But we want him with us for the Ireland game in particular just so that he can build on what he’s done with us so far.’
‘When people have said I’ve been loyal to him, he’s deserved that, his performances have been excellent for us so that’s not been a difficult decision for me,’ he added.
‘We have some competition for places but I’d have to say that there’s nobody that I think is seriously challenging him at the moment to push him out of that position.
‘In terms of how his club are looking after him, he’s got a hugely experienced manager there who’s won everything in the game and he’s in a very good place with that.’