England right-back Reece James believes he is in the best form of his career ahead of this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.
James has been in impressive form for Chelsea this season, scoring four goals and registering three assists in eight Premier League games.
The 21-year-old is currently the Blues’ joint-top scorer in all competitions and recently topped the latest Sky Sports Power Rankings for the league’s most in-form player, ahead of Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Salah.
Asked about his form at a press conference on Tuesday, James said: “I’d say at this moment in time, this is probably the best I’ve performed, and recent results and performances have probably shown that as well.
“Our team’s performing well and we’re creating a lot of chances, so that’s obviously helping and we’ve got great players around us.
“When you’re playing week in and week out, you’re playing well and the team’s performing, keeping clean sheets and winning games, it obviously helps everyone build confidence.”
‘Competition drives us on’
Despite James’ performances at club level, a starting spot for England under Gareth Southgate is not guaranteed.
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Manchester City’s Kyle Walker have also impressed this season, but James insists the competition – despite club rivalries – keeps each of them at the top of their games.
“Each one of us has a different style of play. Trent’s obviously been at the top for quite a few years now and Kyle Walker as well, so the competition’s very tough,” he said.
“There are other full-backs who are not here as well who are also at a very good level. I’m competing with very good players, it’s tough and we just have to keep pushing each other.
“When you come away, you know you have to put club rivalry aside and when we’re here, we’re one team and our aim is to win and no matter who we’re playing against, we have to put it aside and focus on our task here.”
‘Smith Rowe a top player’
James also spoke highly of Arsenal attacking midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, who has been called up to the England senior men’s squad for the first time.
The 21-year-old, who went on trial at Chelsea before joining Arsenal’s academy, met up with the rest of Southgate’s squad at St George’s Park on Monday.
“I’ve always known he’s a top player,” James said of Smith-Rowe.
“He came to Chelsea when he was quite young. I remember playing with him and playing against him even when he moved to Arsenal, so I’ve always known he’s a top player and I think this season he’s shown how good he is and why he’s been selected.
“Everyone can see how good he is (in training) and how well he’s been doing.”