Chelsea defender Reece James has travelled to Abu Dhabi with the Blues ahead of their Club World Cup campaign.
The England wing-back will remain a long shot to feature in the tournament due to continued hamstring trouble. However, his presence in Chelsea’s initial 23-man travelling squad will be a boost to the to the club, who are itching to have the talented wide man back in action.
James has not featured since damaging his hamstring in Chelsea’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Brighton at Stamford Bridge on December 29.
And boss Thomas Tuchel admitted on Friday that James would miss Chelsea’s tilt at the Club World Cup title in the United Arab Emirates.
The fact that James was at a stage of his recovery suitable for air travel however will raise hopes of the 22-year-old inching ever closer to a playing return.
Chelsea confirmed a squad of 23 players who travelled to Abu Dhabi, with the Blues arriving on Sunday.
Edouard Mendy will link up with the squad later, with the in-form goalkeeper poised for Senegal’s African Cup of Nations final showdown with Egypt on Sunday night.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has not travelled with Chelsea, with the England midfielder still battling a recent knock.
Covid-hit Tuchel misses flight
Boss Tuchel has not travelled either after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday and going straight into self-isolation.
The Blues still hope that Tuchel can link up with the squad in Abu Dhabi in due course, but until then assistant coaches Arno Michels and Zsolt Low will continue to hold the fort.
Chelsea’s Club World Cup semi-final will be staged on Wednesday, with the Blues taking on the winner of Sunday’s clash between Al Hilal and Al Jazira.
“Having left the UK in the very early hours of Sunday morning, the Chelsea travelling part for the FIFA Club World Cup has arrived in Abu Dhabi,” read a Chelsea statement.
“A total of 23 players has made the journey, with Edouard Mendy due to join up later. He competes in the African Cup of Nations final later today, with Senegal taking on Egypt.”
Chelsea squad for Club World Cup: Arrizabalaga, Bettinelli, Rudiger, Christensen, Silva, Chalobah, Sarr, Azpilicueta, James, Kenedy, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Saul, Barkley, Ziyech, Pulisic, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Werner, Havertz, Lukaku.