REECE JAMES put his European Championship place at risk by pulling out of England because he didn’t feel physically ready.
Coach Gareth Southgate was hoping to appoint the Chelsea captain, who has just returned from his recent hamstring injury.
But James, 23, explained that he wanted to sit this one out to continue his recovery.
The England manager said: “I was hoping to call Reece.
“He feels like he’s not quite ready yet. I understand that.”
“He has had a whole series of injuries.
“So he’s a bit cautious in that respect, but I can understand why.
“There is a lot of competition as a full-back and that is the risk. He only has one squad left until the European Championships.
“So he knows that. We believe in what he can do.”
Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier are the two right-backs in Southgate’s latest squad for this month’s Euro qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia, with Trent Alexander-Arnold listed as a midfielder.
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Southgate named toon prodigy Tino Livramento, 20, as someone who caught the eye.
Raheem Sterling was missing for the third consecutive game since opting not to join the squad in June so he could concentrate on his fitness.
Nevertheless, Southgate said: “The door is 100 percent open not only for Raheem but also for other players.”