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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 match action for reserve and youth teams

A typically young Chelsea reserve side, but one with players who have accumulated plenty of experience on loan, was in action on Wednesday afternoon in a training ground friendly against Fulham.

The reserves are maintaining match sharpness to the end of the first team season and following on from a double header against Manchester City over the two previous weeks, our local rivals were hosted at Cobham and beaten 2-1.

The Chelsea side in action was:

Sam Walker; Nana-Ofori Twumasi (Shaun Cummings), Michael Mancienne, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt; Jacob Mellis, Jack Cork, Liam Bridcutt ©; Miroslav Stoch (Jacopo Sala), Franco Di Santo, Scott Sinclair.

The big question at the end of the first half was how had the game remained scoreless with Chelsea, in the early stages especially, not capitalising on a string of shooting opportunities.

Stoch began the sequence with an attempt from a difficult angle that was saved and he soon beat two players in typical low-centre-of-gravity style on a run before teeing up Di Santo who shot wide with the best chance of the half.

The Argentine was more unfortunate than wasteful later in the half when his own dribbling left two Fulham players trailing but as the Chelsea centre-forward shot low, a third defender deflected the ball wide.

Mellis, who doesn't lack for inches as a midfielder, had a header from a corner saved but then having dominated, Chelsea allowed Fulham to cause problems at the other end as the half-time interval approached.

When a pass between Ofori-Twumasi and Bridcutt went astray, the Blues were grateful to see the ball fired wide by Fulham.

It was a big error at the back by the visitors that allowed Stoch to open the scoring shortly after the break and in front of a watching Guus Hiddink and all the first team staff (plus Ashley Cole supporting the reserves once again), Chelsea would have been looking to kick on from there and impress - but Fulham equalised almost immediately.

The Chelsea midfield set about re-establishing a lead - Mellis denied by a save and then Cork shooting wide after making space following good work by Stoch.

Sinclair was the next to shoot at the keeper but the winger did rather better midway through the half, scoring the winner after Di Santo's initial shot had rebounded off the bar and Mellis had feed him.

Di Santo could have stretched the lead but headed a cross by substitute Cummings wide and it took the best moment of Chelsea defending by Van Aanhlot to prevent far post danger from Fulham with time running out.

Right-back Cummings was playing his first game at Chelsea following 32 appearances in MK Dons' promotion campaign from League One that ultimately ended at the play-off stage.

Bertrand did not play against Fulham but Mancience, Sinclair and Cork (pictured below) did and all have plenty of loan experience under their belts.

Cork played 46 matches this season alone at Southampton and then Watford.

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Of the Saints experience he recalls:

'It was a club that was in the Premiership and has a big history and I played in a number of positions and did well when I played. But the team wasn't doing so well and we struggled for results.

'Their financial problems made it hard so we had too many young players to do well, but we played good football. It was a good learning curve, but hard because we lacked quality and experience in some areas.'

Towards the end of 2008, Brendan Rodgers, who was Cork's coach as he grew up in the youth team and reserves at Chelsea, asked if he would like to go to Watford on loan instead.

'It was a hard decision,' admits the 19-year-old, 'because the Southampton fans were alright with me but Brendan being at Watford made it a good choice.'

Now looking ahead to next season?

'I will come back here in pre-season and hopefully there will be a place for me, but maybe I will have to go out on loan and get some more experience. I have enjoyed it the past two and a bit years. My year at Scunthorpe was good last year and having to settle in somewhere new, not just football but for life in general, it is good for you.'

Cork is joined by Mancienne and Bertrand in the pre-selection England Under 21 squad of 40 names for next month's European Championships in Sweden. The final 23-man party is named today (Thursday).

In the last Young Generation, there was news of the first game by Chelsea's representative in the European Under 17 Championships - Turkish midfielder Gokhan Tore - who had lost to host nation Germany and been sent-off.

His belief is that both yellow cards were not justified but suspension still had to be served against Netherlands in the second match. He was back for the third game and a 1-0 win over England, both sides dropping out of a tournament won by the Germans.

Tore is now back with the Chelsea youth squad for whom there has also been friendly action recently.

'We played an Under 17 game against Nottingham Forest,' reports youth team manager Dermot Drummy.

'The thinking behind that was to give a game to 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who will be going to a tournament in Amsterdam next week so we needed to keep them ticking over.

'The Under 16s have finished their training due to exams but we wanted to give them a game for fitness.

'The Under 16s come to Chelsea on a day release programme from school but come May they have the pressures of exams. We have to give them then best chance so we take the heat off them and give them plenty of time to study and do their course work.'

Forest were beaten 3-2 with Chelsea goals coming from first year scholar Kaby Djalo and schoolboy Aziz Deen Conteh.

There then followed a mixed Under 17s/18s game against Reading.

'That was because the Under 18 boys who don't play in the reserves will also go to Amsterdam. We beat Reading 3-2 as well with goalscorers Frank Nouble, Djalo and schoolboy Danny Mills so that was two decent performances against good sides.

'We go to Amsterdam on the Friday with games on Saturday against Ajax and Sunday against Chivas from Mexico who from experience always send over decent sides.'

Source: Chelsea FC

Edited by EskWeston
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