Chelsea confirm first January deal as possible Recce James replacement

 Chelsea transfer news as the Blues make giant January decision that could give them long-term cover for Reece James

Chelsea defender Reece James
Reece James could be out until after March with injury

Chelsea have confirmed that talented young right-back Josh -Kofi Acheampong has signed a first professional contract with the club. The 17-year-old has been a standout in the Under-18s and Under-21s side this season having joined Cobham a decade ago.

Only last month Acheampong was in action with England Under-17s, playing every minutes of what ended up as a disappointing campaign. He is also now part of the Under-18 set up at youth level with the Three Lions.

Acheampong had been receiving interest from clubs across England as he looks to continue his rise but head of youth development and recruitment Jim Fraser is delighted to keep him onside. "We are thrilled that Josh has committed his future to the club," he said.



"He has taken another step forward in his development this season, something reflected in his performances for club and country." Acheampong has already been involved in first team training at points this season, evidence of his performance levels in the academy. He will now be targetting an even bigger breakthrough.

Mauricio Pochettino has been generous, at least when compared to other Chelsea manager, with his use of Cobham's best players in training throughout much of his first season at Stamford Bridge and has also turned to Alfie Gilchrist - now taking his first steps towards a full debut - as well as Leo Castledine and Kiano Dyer. Alex Matos, signed from Norwich over the summer and set for a loan move to Huddersfield, has also been a regular.

Right-back is certainly a position of interest for the head coach, though, with academy graduate, established first-team presence and club captain Reece James injured once more. The 24-year-old has been ruled out for at least three months and may well not be back to match fitness much before the season is finished after yet another blow.

Behind James is Malo Gusto. He has deputised well for James but has injury worries of his own, missing four weeks over November and December. He has since come back into the side in recent weeks and has looked strong on the right side of a largely inexperienced defence.

Without James there is a lack of other options at full-back for Pochettino currently, though, with Gilchrist being used to cover in the final minutes of matches against Luton and Crystal Palace. Marc Cucurella has played there this season but is out with injury himself while Axel Disasi has filled in but is far from natural and has responsibilities in the centre.

It would be a big step for Acheampong to get close to a first team appearance at this stage, but given Chelsea have three matches against Championship opposition this month - Preston in the FA Cup on Saturday as well as both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final with Middlesbrough to come - there is an opportunity for him to be involved in some form.


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