Chelsea legend full of praise for youngster James

Chelsea will have Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi back in their squad for Saturday's Premier League game against Brighton at Stamford Bridge.

Former Chelsea right-back Paulo Ferreira says he has been stunned at how quickly Reece James has developed in the last 12 months.

The 20-year-old has made 17 appearances this season in the Premier League, with coach Frank Lampard trying to give the club’s youngsters a chance to prove themselves.

James has grasped the opportunity with both hands and has now made 26 appearances this season in all competitions.

The Redbridge-born defender joined the club in 2006, and after graduating through their academy, he joined Wigan Athletic in the Championship last season.

James made 45 appearances, as the Latics avoided relegation to League One, and Ferreira worked closely with him during his time at the DW Stadium.

Ferreira, Chelsea’s loan technical coach, has been watching him closely and admits he is surprised how he has taken to the top flight.

He told “He is a top player and a fantastic boy. For me, it was a pleasure to work with him last season when he was at Wigan.

“You could see the potential of the player and I thought he could come back to the club and do well.

“But if you ask me if I thought he would be doing what he has been doing, then I wouldn’t have believed you!

“But I am happy he surprised me. He is still a young player and learning. He has lots to improve on and to improve, you need minutes, to be tested and to make mistakes.”

James has competed with Cesar Azpilicueta for the right-back spot and will have a huge role to play before the end of the season.

The Blues currently occupy fourth spot in the Premier League on 48 points, but they have Manchester United breathing down their necks, with just three points separating them.

Chelsea are also still in the Champions League although they need to produce an incredible performance in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie to overturn a 3-0 deficit against Bayern Munich.