Reece James has opened up on the advice he has received from Thiago Silva after being appointed as Chelsea captain this season.
James was named as the new captain of Chelsea last summer after the exit of Cesar Azpilicueta, with the 23-year-old becoming the youngest captain in the Premier League. The armband represents another step in James’ career, having progressed through the academy ranks in west London.
The England international has struggled with fitness issues this season, but says teammate Silva has been a major support in terms of leadership during his absence from the side.
“I now know what it’s like to be a fan,” he told the club’s official website.
“The captaincy has been great, but it was difficult when I wasn’t fit because it is hard to affect things as much when I’m not with the group all the time.
“Thiago probably helps me the most whenever I’m unsure, or I feel like I need advice on something. He is nearly old enough to be my dad! So he is the person I go to.
“It’s not for me to say what sort of captain I am, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s an honour.”
James was left out of the latest England squad as he continues to step up his fitness after injury problems, having started just three Premier League games so far this season. The right-back opened up on his road to recovery and said he is feeling better than he has in a ‘long time’.
“I haven’t felt this good in a long time,” he says.
“I definitely feel my strength and fitness building up again. Recently, I’ve been able to play consistently. I haven’t been able to play 90 minutes yet, but I’m training and playing hard, and pushing the limits every day to get back to my best level.
“I’m happy to be helping the team again as well. After almost three months out, it takes a while to build back up and find your form again. Some people think as soon as you come back you should instantly be at the level you left at, but it doesn’t work like that.
“You have to move slow and steady. That’s what I have been doing. I’m slowly progressing.”