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The Young Generation

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There is plenty to consider in the Chelsea Academy at present, with a number of players returning from loan and an FA Youth Cup tie to prepare for in the snow. Victory at Charlton last month, in the youth team's last competitive game saw us progress into the fourth round of the competition, in which we reached the final two seasons ago.

Next up is a trip to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, but not before we are due to host Ipswich in a league fixture at Cobham on Saturday morning, which given the current snowy conditions looks unlikely to go ahead.

Coach Dermot Drummy, whose squad has seen its session snowed off today, is aware of a lack of match practice affecting his squad after the Christmas break, but is hopeful problems can be overcome.

'We haven't played, our last game was Charlton in the third round, on December 14,' he said. It looks like Ipswich will probably be off Saturday, and we wanted to play the Youth Cup team in that one as much as we could.

'Looking at the weather we may get back in on the Astroturf to train on Friday, and hopefully get three days of preparation in, which is okay. I think we will be able to get all the boys together, which is good.

'We played Forest earlier in the season and won 3-0, the second or third game in. They posed us a few problems early on and had some chances, the result probably flattered us a bit, but if we have the right attitude we can be confident.'


Although the youth squad were not in for training today due to the adverse weather, the reserves ploughed on in the dome, not that coach Steve Holland was without problems.

'Not all the players have been able to get in, but we had a head count and got ourselves sorted inside the dome,' he reported.

'We had a friendly lined up against Blackburn today but that was called off late on Tuesday, because they were unable to get out of Blackburn, but as it happens if they'd managed it, they wouldn't have been able to get a game on here anyway.'

In spite of transport difficulties, Holland has still seen numbers swell after the return of five players from Football League loans - Jack Cork, Patrick van Aanholt, Jacob Mellis, Liam Bridcutt and Rhys Taylor all back at Cobham with the second string.

'The two at Coventry, Jack and Patrick, have both done well, which is the main thing with any player going out on loan. You want it to be a positive experience so you come back being wanted by the club you have been at,' he explained.

'That's been the case with both Jack and Patrick, and both have returned to Chelsea for the time being. We're reviewing what the best decision will be between now and the end of the season.

'Certainly in Patrick's case there would be a qualification issue for the Champions League next season and being registered as a home-grown player, so that would be a factor in his development for the next six months - he may have to stay here to be eligible.


'Jack's scenario is different given that he has been here much longer, so we would be looking to get Jack back out, either back to Coventry or to a club at a similar stature in the second half of the season.

'Jacob Mellis has returned from Southampton and will be here until the end of the season. His scenario is similar to Patrick, in that he came quite late to Chelsea so there is a factor in the qualification as a home-grown player for the Champions League, where the rules are always changing and you need a certain number of home-grown players on your list.

'The likelihood at the moment is that he will finish the season playing with the reserves and training with the first-team when he has the opportunity.

'Liam Bridcutt would still have been at Stockport and is only back at the moment because he has had an injury, and he is close to training again so perhaps next week he will be back out there. He played in every game at Stockport and was a success.

'There was some interest from other clubs, so what materialises we will review as we go. The possibility is that if we could get Liam out to a similar or better level then I think we would look favourably at that.

'Rhys Taylor has just come back from six weeks or so at QPR, and had an example of football in the real world, with the manager being sacked halfway through his loan. He's had to go through all of that, and only went there as a number two, and that won't have done him any harm but we could do with Rhys getting some games.

'He'll return to Chelsea and play in the reserves. If an opportunity comes to get league football, more or less at any level, then we'll consider, perhaps on a month to month basis. The priority is that he's on the field, either with us or somebody else.'

The next scheduled opportunity for reserve team football at Chelsea will be Monday 18 January, when we entertain Wolves at Brentford's Griffin Park.

There is the possibility of the 'return leg' of our friendly against Celtic a week later, before another Reserve League South game against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Monday 1 February, with all league games shown live on Chelsea TV - also the only place to catch Tuesday's Youth Cup match, live and uninterrupted.

Source: Chelsea FC

Edited by EskWeston
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