Many of Chelsea’s players will have gone even longer than three weeks without action in a blue shirt. Last time out away to Portsmouth, Paul Clement took the opportunity to use some older players in preparation for the FA Youth Cup, which Chelsea enter soon. So the only football the likes of Jeffrey Bruma, Gael Kakuta, and Ben Gordon have had recently has been on international duty. Many young blues have impressed whilst representing their countries, with Kakuta, Stoch, Borini and Sala all scoring for their countries over the last month or two.
Jacopo Sala is a new name to even the most hardened youth follower. For many, the first they will have heard of him was the Portsmouth match report, where he made his Under 18 debut. The 16 year-old signed from Atalanta over the summer and has been in fine form for the Under 16s, where he tends to play in an attacking role just behind the striker – although he has featured as the lead forward as well. He impressed enough against Portsmouth to potentially warrant an appearance on Saturday, but it will largely depend on the number of regular Under 18s available for selection.
After winning only one of their first eight games, Charlton have fought back with back to back wins over West Ham and Portsmouth, recording clean sheets in both, so they’ll come to Cobham in good form and with confidence. They are coached by former Chelsea player and Under 16 manager Damian Matthew. Damian worked with the likes of Sam Hutchinson, Liam Bridcutt, and Shaun Cummings during his time at Chelsea, and is seen as a talented youth coach.
Danny Uchechi leads the Addicks in the goalscoring charts. The Nigerian 18 year-old is quick and agile and has a keen eye for goal and the finishing to go with it. He fronts a team with a number of highly rated players such as Ruairi Harkin, Richmond Kissi, and Scott Wagstaff. Last season, Josh Wright appeared in this fixture for Charlton, and has since gone on to become a member of their first team squad (currently on loan at Barnet).
With the aforementioned FA Youth Cup fast approaching, the younger members of the Under 18 side will be looking to impress as much as possible in the coming games to earn a selection in the country’s most prestigious youth competition. In recent years Chelsea have been knocked out early in the competition by Liverpool, and whilst individual development is always stressed as the number one aim, there has to be some desire within the club to do themselves justice in the Cup.
This somewhat rain-sodden fixture last season finished 1-0 to Chelsea with a late Tomi Saarelma goal. The match takes place at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground with an 11am kick-off. Entry is free and encouraged. The nearest public transport is Cobham and Stoke D’Abernon Station, where you will then be able to ask a Chelsea security guard for directions from Platform 2. A full match report will follow this weekend.