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Comment: Why Ben Chilwell's Could've Benefitted From Chelsea Stay After England Call-Up

Absolute Chelsea
Absolute Chelsea
 2021-10-05

Ben Chilwell earned a surprise England call-up for the October internationals, but Gareth Southgate's latest decision may not have been the best outcome for the Chelsea defender.

The 24-year-old had a confusing summer to say the least. After playing in, and winning the Champions League final back in May against Manchester City, Chilwell was called up to the England squad for the European Championships.

But it didn't work out to how he thought it may, not at all really. He didn't play a single minute in the tournament. That wasn't helped by the fact he was forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with club teammate Billy Gilmour who tested positive for coronavirus.

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(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

Southgate opted to go with alternative options at left-back throughout the course of the tournament, including selecting Kieran Tripper on the left side despite him being a natural right-back.

A disappointing tournament for Chilwell individually meant he returned to Chelsea pre-season late because of getting extra-time off. This was not ideal at all. Marcos Alonso pushed his way into contention and became Thomas Tuchel's number one at left wing-back

Chilwell struggled over the summer and in the early weeks of the 2021/22 season, not featuring in the Blues' opening six games of the season.

""It has been difficult for him," said Tuchel last month. "It is pretty normal for him, he came from a Champions League win, 90 minutes and a strong performance, a good end of the season, played a lot of minutes, important high level games. Individually for him, it was a tough Euros. There were chances where he thought he could have played, he did not. I know it was a tough one. You feel he did everything to push the team, he was part of the team but you don’t feel it really if you don’t sweat it out on the pitch, if you never wear the shirt or are never involved. It is a strange feeling.

"Then he had a personal break, it was hard for him to totally relax and get this disappointment personally off the shoulders. When he arrived here I felt him a bit mentally tired, a bit like worrying about the situation and at the same time he had to accept he was very unlucky I think during the start of the season."

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(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

Chilwell's England treatment was harsh in the summer considering his club form, and after he wasn't selected last month, his inclusion for the October internationals looked slim.

He wasn't initially called up by Southgate. Mason Mount and Reece James were the only Chelsea players to be selected.

But Chilwell's fortunes were soon to change, all within a week. He was given 45 minutes against Juventus, albeit that Chelsea lost in Turin. He was then handed his first appearance, and start, by Tuchel in the Premier League on Saturday against Southampton. Chilwell rewarded his boss by getting on the scoresheet on his return to the starting XI during the 3-1 victory.

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(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

James has been suffering from an ankle injury. Tuchel was extremely surprised to see the right-back selected for international duty.

"When I saw it I thought that maybe Reece goes with the water polo team with England because right now he trains in the pool.

"I was quite surprised he was selected for the England football team. This will not happen as he is training in the pool right now. My understanding from the last information is that he cannot go. It must be a misunderstanding, nothing else."

Chilwell's return to the Chelsea side benefitted his England call-up. On Monday, it was confirmed Chilwell would join up with Southgate's squad for the internationals in place of James.

But is that actually a positive for the defender?

Nobody can dispute the pride at getting called up for their country. It's what dreams are made of when footballers are growing up and progressing through the ranks.

But after Chilwell's suffering in the summer, there is no guarantee he will get minutes this time round against Andorra or Hungary.

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(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

If Chilwell doesn't play any minutes, or plays a bit part, was the call-up worth it? The answer, in my opinion, is no, it isn't.

Marcos Alonso, Chilwell's competition at Chelsea, who he 'respects' highly, was drafted in by Spain for international duty. That would've boosted Chilwell's Chelsea chances greatly.

If Chilwell stayed at Cobham with Tuchel and the rest of the coaches and unselected players, he would've most likely been guaranteed to start against Brentford on October 16. Even more so due to Alonso being away on international duty.

Chilwell would've had the chance to get a run of games under his belt to solidify his spot in the Chelsea starting XI after a difficult beginning to the campaign.

The key word is 'if'. If Southgate didn't select him. But it wouldn't come as a surprise if he didn't. Chilwell can only hope Southgate offers him minutes this month, but if he doesn't? Well, then serious consideration needs to be made for future decisions.

An England call-up is never a waste of time, after all you are called to represent your country, but staying at Chelsea would be more beneficial to Chilwell moving forward particularly in the short term if he doesn't get on the pitch for the Three Lions.

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