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The Young Generation

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in our regular round up of news and views below first team level, we look at how the season is drawing to a close.

League seasons have come to an end for both reserve and youth teams at Chelsea, but as for their first team equivalents, the football goes on into May.

This week that meant a short break from his involvement in the Barcelona tie for Paul Clement to take the reserve squad on a rare trip north of Stoke as they faced Manchester City in the City of Manchester Stadium.

This was a continuation of friendly fixture arrangements against other leading clubs that earlier in the season saw Chelsea take on Liverpool and Manchester United home and away. These matches provide challenging football during holes in the league programme.

For Clement and some of his starting 11 this week, more specifically the defence of Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Anholt and Ben Gordon, plus Jacob Mellis ahead of them in midfield, it was back on the turf where they had proudly represented the club in last year's FA Youth Cup Final, although ultimately suffering disappointment.

Man City had several of their Youth Cup-winning team out too, plus Joe Hart in goal, two first team squad players in Valeri Bojinov and Ched Evans up front, and Martin Petrov and Kelvin Etuhu, brother of Fulham's Dickson Etuhu, in midfield.

Chelsea's touch of experience came from Mineiro and Ricardo Quaresma, the side completed by Miroslav Stoch on the left and up front, a pairing of Fabio Borini and Franco Di Santo. Guus Hiddink is not the only coach to give 4-4-2 a try out this month.

'We stayed with the shape the whole game apart from the last 10 minutes,' reports Clement. 'We won the game 3-2, played well in the formation and it was good for our players' education to have two in midfield and play with two strikers.'

One of those front two, Borini (pictured below), scored early after Hart saved his original effort and Di Santo and Mineiro follow ups were initially blocked.


Great chances were then spurned by Borini and Mellis, who had a one-on-one after a fantastic ball from Quaresma. Chelsea could have been 3-0 up but were soon 2-1 down.

Jan Sebek, the young Czech who has emerged from a pack of youth team keepers to play regularly in the reserves recently, had again started when Nic Heimann suffered injury in the warm-up, but Sebek's poor kick was contributory to City's first. Then Chelsea failed to mark at a cross for the second.

The response was good. Quaresma, who once showed plenty of commitment to the second string and produced the highest quality football, fed Stoch for a shot that took a little deflection and there was nothing Hart could do. So it was 2-2 at half-time.

The second half proved tighter but good play again from Quaresma in playing the ball out to Stoch led to a cross-shot that was put in by Di Santo for the winner.

For the record, Tom Taiwo for Gordon, Frank Nouble for Di Santo, Jacopo Sala for Borini and Quaresma replaced late on by Fabio Ferreira were the substitutions made.

There will be a return fixture with Man City before the season is out.

This Saturday, a Chelsea Under 17s side plays Nottingham Forest at Cobham in another friendly. Each season it is the Under 18 age group that contests the youth league and cup, so an Under 17s team now is one with a view to next season.

Other recent youth team action away from the league has included a second visit this season from FC Tolyatti, a Russian side whose academy receives sponsorship support from Roman Abramovich's sports charity foundation, the National Academy of Football. Chelsea played and beat them 3-1 in an Under 17 tournament to mark the opening of our Academy and Community Pavilion at Cobham back in August. On their latest visit the Russian's won 1-0.

And staying with the Under 17 age theme, Chelsea has one youth squad player keeping the blue flag flying at the European Under 17 Championships which began in Germany this week.

Gokhan Tore is a Turkish player who joined from German club Bayer Leverkusen midway through this season. It took until the tail end of the season for the strong-running midfielder or forward to feature but he fitted in four matches before the end.

'It was fitness before that,' explains youth team manager Dermot Drummy. 'He's been playing for both us and Turkey so the balance of games in training and recovery has been difficult for him. He is taking time to bed in.

Back on German soil this week, Tore was part of Turkey's 3-1 defeat to the host nation.

Chelsea schoolboy Josh McEachran (pictured above), a youth team regular this season, would have been part of the England scene in the European Championships had a sprained ankle last month while on international duty not ended the midfielder's season prematurely.


Source: Chelsea FC

Edited by EskWeston
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