'It was like watching Beckham' – Cole compares Chelsea youngster James to England icon

The Blues' academy product is just 19 years old but has seen his delivery skills likened to one of the best crossers the game has seen

Joe Cole has not been surprised by Reece James' emergence at Chelsea and has compared the full-back's crossing skills to those of England icon David Beckham.

James was introduced in the second half of Chelsea's eight-goal Champions League thriller against Ajax on Tuesday evening, a match in which the hosts had found themselves 4-2 down at Stamford Bridge before second yellow cards for Daley Blind and Joel Veltman reduced the visitors to nine men.

A second penalty of the night was well dispatched by Jorginho before James struck minutes later to make it 4-4 before Chelsea pushed for a winning goal after a nightmare start.

A winner proved elusive in the end, but the character shown by an inexperienced Blues side impressed former favourite Cole, who singled out James for special praise after the match.

“When I was playing in America [with Tampa Bay Rowdies], I came around to train with the kids,” Cole told BT Sport of linking up with his former side during a pre-season training camp.

“We were having shooting session and the kids' shooting was erratic, but James was on the money, on the money, whipping crosses, it was like watching Beckham.”

At just 19 years of age, James will be keen to keep his feet on the ground and continue fighting for starts under Lampard, but taking part in one of Chelsea's craziest European clashes in history should  provide invaluable experience as the youth product continues to grow.

“It was a crazy game,” the full-back said after the match.

“They were hard to break down and we took advantage of them going down to nine men, it was a shame we couldn't win. Scoring a goal is a bonus.

“The manager told me to come on and liven the boys up, we had chances to win it but from where we were at half-time it's a good result.

“I had some mad nights and some great nights, but for everything that it was, it was certainly right up there.

“Chelsea fans know the story of what we have done in the Champions League but I don’t really want to talk about that.

“For a performance like today you need personalities and characters – at 4-1 down it is easy to give it away and give it up.”