Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that Reece James was substituted due to tiredness rather than injury in the second half of Chelsea's clash against Liverpool. The Blues captain could be seen holding his leg before being replaced by Malo Gusto in the 76th minute of the game at Stamford Bridge.
Pochettino asserted that they simply did not want to take any risks with James as they continue to manage his load after he ended last season with injury. The 51-year-old head coach noted that James endured a difficult pre-season as he looked to build his fitness.
James featured regularly in the United States but was late joining the tour after seeing his trip across the Atlantic delayed due to illness.
Pochettino said: "Because he was tired. You need to see from where he came. The first thing we did when we arrived was to assess and analyse all of the players from the past. He was injured for three or four months. This pre-season was tough for him, we didn't want to take any risk and that is why at 80 minutes, we wanted to avoid the risk."
James led the team for the first time after being named captain earlier in the week by the club and appeared to make a conscious effort to add a leadership element to his performance. The wingback provided plenty of threat from the wing during his time on the pitch, but he also ensured to deliver some words of wisdom to Gusto when he entered the field.
Former Spurs and PSG boss Pochettino reinforced why James had been selected.
He said: "After nearly six weeks working, we decided with the club to give the armband to him because I think he is the perfect profile. He is a fantastic player, he is a fantastic boy, loves Chelsea and he is a leader. The teammates respect him and everyone in the club respects him and the fans love him also. I think he is a perfect player to be a captain."