Youth Teams
Youth Teams

Reece James wants another Toulon title and aims to help Young Lions enjoy experience

Friday 31 May 2019
Reece James has been a regular for Paul Simpsdn's U20s team this season

Reece James is hoping to help lead England to a fourth successive title as well as add a second medal to his own Toulon collection.

The Chelsea defender is one of the more experienced heads in Paul Simpson’s squad, currently in southern France preparing to kick-off the 2019 edition of the Maurice Revello Tournament.

Maurice Revello Tournament 2019
  • v Japan, 2pm Saturday 1 June
  • v Portugal, 6pm Tuesday 4 June
  • v Chile, 7.30pm, Friday 7 June
  • Games live on FreeSports

And after being part of the team who won the 2017 title, before going on to add an U19 EURO winners’ medal to his collection later that summer, James will be one of the leaders in a squad which contains a mixture of U20 and U19 players along with a few new faces on their first England camp.

"There's a lot of new players, but we’ll all stick together and work together to hopefully have a good tournament,” said James, ahead of Saturday’s opening game with Japan.

"I've been here before and hopefully I can help a few of the lads out that haven't, in where we found it tough last time.

"But it's good to be back again and we're here to win it. We're not just here to take part and that starts with our first game against Japan.

"Every opponent here is going to be good, that's why they're here, but we just have to take it game by game.

The Young Lions squad meet youngsters in Mallemort during their preparations for this year's tournament

"Different games are going to have different objectives, but we have to go out to win.”

The 19-year-old was one of the younger players in the squad for Toulon two years ago, when a similarly mixed-age group team led by Neil Dewsnip beat Ivory Coast in the Final.

But his performances that year earned him a place in the team of the tournament and touching down in Provence this week brought some of those memories back.

"Winning it is my main memory, going to penalties in the final and it was a good experience and thankfully we won,” added James, who went into that tournament just a few months after making his England debut with the U18s.

"Personally, I thought I had a good tournament and played well throughout so I'm just looking to improve on that and hopefully this tournament will be a little bit better.”

Since then, James has been a regular for England at both U19 and U20 level as well as making a name for himself in the Championship this season during an impressive loan spell with Wigan Athletic.

James caught the eye with his all-action displays for Wigan in the Championship this season

He featured in 45 games for the Latics after joining them for the season, was named in the Championship team of the season and won a string of player-of-the-year awards at the DW Stadium.

And the east London-born full-back believes playing those games is what has helped him improve over the course of the season.

"When I got there, I thought I'd play maybe 15 or 20 games which would be a good start building into next season,” he admits.

“But as soon as I got there and went in the team, I never came out. As time goes on and you play more games, you pick up different things and gradually get better over time.

"If you maintain your work rate, there's no reason why you're not going to get better.

"It was a fantastic feeling to be named in all of the awards but it comes down to working hard and knowing what I needed to do.”

Since Simpson’s squad arrived in France earlier this week, there's been a few changes made to the initial group which was named on Tuesday.

Midfielders Jamie Shackleton of Leeds United and Brentford’s Josh Dasilva have joined the group, while Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Ryan Schofield has replaced West Ham’s Nathan Trott in the squad.

All of the games in this year’s tournament will be screened live on Free Sports, which is available across a number of TV platforms in the UK.

By Nicholas Veevers