The pain of MARCOS ALONSO turned into a gain for Reece James on Saturday evening.
The 20-year-old rising star came after Frank Lampard wrung the changes in the back after Wednesday’s collapse in West Ham.
Lampard was furious with the way his team had offered the Hammers a 3-2 victory and Alonso, with Antonio Rudiger, had paid the price.
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This meant another opportunity for right-back James with Kurt Zouma also drafted in the middle and Cesar Azpilicueta passing to the left-back.
James had little to do against a brainless Watford team looking over his shoulder at the dreaded drop zone.
It took 74 minutes for Nigel Pearson’s men to register their first shot on target at Stamford Bridge – it’s as simple as it was for Chelsea.
The teen Blues fan looked comfortable in the back and charged forward to the right, making threatening crosses that could have led to a goal another day.
With the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, James is another brilliant young spark for big things.
But there will be bigger tests to come than Watford at home and this is where James will be subjected to severe scrutiny.
He was one of the three players transported by Lampard at the half-time of the FA Cup in Leicester last weekend after an uninteresting first half.
James will thrive in the future, but the Blues Lampard boss needs to think long and hard about a short-term solution for the next two seasons.
Chelsea cannot count on the 20-year-old to save them when players like Alonso performed as they did on Wednesday night.
Not if they want to bridge the gap with Liverpool and Manchester City and become a force in Europe.
The Blues spent big up front with £ 58 million, Christian Pulisic started to thrive after injuries and £ 90 million more talent for Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech this summer.
Opening the checkbook might be the only way to avoid more horror shows like Wednesday nights until James becomes the real deal.