Reece James featured in all but one of Wigan Athletic’s league matches last year, scoring three goals and playing a key role in their survival.
And, if it wasn’t for Chelsea’s transfer ban this season, James could well have ended up playing another season of Championship football.
Due to the ban however, Frank Lampard has had to utilise the squad that was already available to him when he arrived at Stamford Bridge in July.
Lampard has made no secret of the fact he has faith in his crop of youngsters and has so far consistently picked Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, with the latter two playing a pivotal role under Lampard at Derby County last season.
19-year-old James has played a less consistent role in Lampard’s Chelsea side this season, but has been one of the key fringe players as Lampard guides the Blues through this season of transition.
He has come off the bench in the Premier League in Chelsea’s last three matches, started in both EFL Cup games and featured in three Champions League games, the latest being the 4-4 draw against Ajax on Tuesday where he netter the equaliser.
Wigan currently sit 20th in the Championship, after only managing four wins so far this term, with their season appearing to be going a similar way to last, with their home form keeping them just above the drop zone.
Where the Latics miss James is his versatility and ability to fill a number of roles should he be called upon.
Wigan are the joint-second lowest scorers in the Championship this season with only Middlesbrough finding the net fewer than them.
Over his 45 league appearances, he filled in at centre-back, right-back, right-wing back and holding midfield for Paul Cook’s men.
Although naturally a defensive player, James does offer a threat going forward and it is that creativeness that Wigan have lacked this season.
Wigan don’t seem to have an overwhelming ability to create chances and for a defensive player, James was directly involved with six goals last term for the side.
It was reported last month, that fellow Championship side Leeds were keeping tabs on James, with Marcelo Bielsa apparently being an admirer of the player.
It could be likely that Lampard will want to keep James at the Bridge for the remainder of the season, however we shouldn’t rule out a potential loan spell in January for the 19-year-old.
If the latter was the case, Latics fans would be desperate to see their side try and lure James back to the DW Stadium.
Although unlikely, his experience from last season and featuring in the Chelsea side so far this term, mean he would be a welcome addition to Paul Cook’s squad.