Kai Havertz has labelled Reece James a ‘special player’ after the player’s goal and assist in Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday.
After an extended spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, James made appearances off the bench in the Carabao Cup final last week and FA Cup game against Luton in midweek.
But the 22-year-old wing-back was handed his first start since his return to fitness at Turf Moor on Saturday and made a huge contribution to his team’s win.
After a goalless first half, James opened the scoring with a low strike into the corner, before Havertz scored through an header after a good cross from Christian Pulisic.
Just minutes later, Havertz got his second when he bundled in James’ cross, and the scoring was finally wrapped up by Pulisic not long after the third.
‘He’s a special player for us, a very important player for us,’ Havertz said of James, via BBC Sport. ‘He’s a full-back, but he also scores. He’s a great character and a very good player.’
On scoring a brace himself, Havertz added: ‘It’s always very difficult when you don’t score, but these goals help. Sometimes you have to wait a bit to get them. I always want more and more.’
‘We’re very pleased. The result is very good for us,’ Havertz continued. ‘We needed these goals and the clean sheet. It was difficult, especially in the first half. It was important that we scored early in the second half.
‘We switched our formation a little bit [at half-time] – I think that helped us. Reece’s goal was brilliant and it helped us a lot. We’re pleased about these four goals.
‘The confidence is there. I think after the loss in the Carabao Cup final it was a little bit hard to come back, but we showed great character in the FA Cup.
‘The first six months of the year were hard, especially the winter when we had a lot of injuries. We’re on a good run again and we want to keep that going.’