Merson: Chelsea fullback James should be in World Cup squad; Alexander-Arnold will let England down

Former England international Paul Merson says Chelsea fullback Reece James should be going to the World Cup.

James is out with a knee injury, and while he endeavoured to be back in time for the tournament, Gareth Southgate went with other options.

Merson said that he felt this England side would not win the trophy without the 22-year-old, and that national captain Harry Kane would have selected in similar circumstances for the latter stages alone.

Merson wrote for the Daily Star: “If it was Harry Kane he would be going – what’s the difference? We aren’t going to win the World Cup without having James in the team.

“He is a shoo-in to start and if we took him, he plays in England’s team every day of the week. He is one of our best players.

“If it was Kane, they would say ‘right we’ll take him and use him after the group stages’.

“I’d have wrapped him up in cotton wool because you can use Trent Alexander-Arnold in the group stages where you have 70 per cent of the ball and he’s going to look a world-beater.

“Then when we come up against France and he falls asleep and Kylian Mbappe scores we’ll all be scratching our heads. I am shocked.”