Paul Merson has suggested that Reece James could play as a striker after scoring on his return to the Chelsea starting XI against Burnley on Saturday.
James was sidelined for over a month after injuring his hamstring against Brighton at the end of December, severely blunting Chelsea’s attacking threat.
He made his return to action from the bench in the Carabao Cup final before also making a cameo appearance against Luton in the FA Cup, but was chosen to start as the Blues beat Burnley 4-0 at Turf Moor.
James opened the scoring shortly after the start of the second half before assisting Kai Havertz for his second goal of the game. Christian Pulisic rounded off the scoring in the 69th minute.
It has been quite the season for the right wing-back, despite missing just over two months of action. His tally now stands at seven goals and eight assists in all competitions.
His opening strike was enough for Merson to suggest that James could play up front for Tuchel’s side.
“What a goal by Reece James, I mean this lad could play centre-forward!” Merson said during Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports.
“He gets the ball on the right, on the corner of the six-yard box, he goes to shoot then cuts back. Then he goes to throw a dummy… cuts back again. Goes to shoot, cuts back again.
“Then he drills it in the far corner. Phenomenal finish. So much composure.”
Havertz has emerged as Tuchel’s preferred option as the lone striker in his 3-4-2-1 system, and with the German scoring twice on Saturday that does not look likely to change.
But with both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner struggling this campaign, the prospect of using James as a striker is an interesting one.
The 22-year-old now has as many goals in the Premier League as Lukaku and four more than Werner. Both players have looked shot of confidence in recent weeks but found the net against Luton on Wednesday.