James feared for England role after red card, Chelsea ‘learning curve’


eece James has revealed he feared for his England future after being sent off on his full debut last year.

The Chelsea wing-back is now an important and versatile member of Gareth Southgate‘s squad having trained in three different positions this week, but it all could have taken a different path.

Southgate was quick to praise James – who has not missed a squad since – after the game, but the 21-year-old had his concerns.

“Of course [I thought it could cost me], I was very upset at the time,” said James.

“It was my first start and getting sent-off is not the best look.

“As you said, it was a mistake, in life mistakes happen and I had to learn from it.”

There were quick lessons to learn for James.

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The defender has experience of stricter officiating styles in the Champions League with Chelsea, but feels international football is on another level – though the incident is something he is pleased to have got out of his system since.

“I learnt that European referees are a lot stricter. I felt it was very harsh to get sent off, but I learned my lesson and I know I can’t afford to do anything like that again in this tournament because it would be very costly.

“I think in the Premier League the rules and the referees are a lot more lenient. When you come into international football the referees are a lot stricter. I didn’t really know that before I got sent off, so maybe it was a good lesson to learn.

“If I didn’t learn it then it could maybe have happened at a major tournament like this.”

The red card was not the only hurdle for James over what has been a successful, but challenging, season.

As a Chelsea academy graduate, James benefitted from Frank Lampard’s tenure and looked to have overtaken Cesar Azpilicueta in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge for good. But when Lampard was sacked and Thomas Tuchel arrived, the youngster found himself with a fight on his hands.

“We had Frank Lampard and I was very lucky to play the majority of the games under him, but when our new manager came in our style of play and formation changed,” said James.

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