MIDWEEK YOUTH AND RESERVE ROUND-UP
It’s been a bit of a hotch-potch of a week for Chelsea’s youngsters, with a little bit of loan action, a little bit of friendly action, and even some action on the transfer front. We’ll bring it all together into one handy piece right now.
Going back to the start of the week, and Gael Kakuta finished his involvement with France’s Under-19 team in Japan for the Sendai Cup. After scoring a brace in a 3-3 draw with the hosts, he was rested for the 1-0 win over South Korea, before returning for 72 minutes in their 1-0 defeat to Brazil. He was also named as one of the four ‘excellent players’ of the tournament.
Monday also saw three Chelsea players selected for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, which gets underway in Egypt next week. Despite having not been named in the initial party of players, Michael Woods and Nana Ofori-Twumasi have been drafted in for Arsenal’s Kyle Bartley and Tottenham’s Danny Rose respectively. The Czech Republic also named Jan Sebek as one of their goalkeepers, which represents the first youth selection at any level for the much-improved teenage stopper.
Tuesday night saw Champions League action, and with the Blues suffering from injuries and suspensions, Carlo Ancelotti was forced to turn to the youth of the club to fill out the first team bench. Sam Hutchinson has been a regular in this role so far this season, but was joined for the first time by Jeffrey Bruma and Fabio Borini. None of the three got time on the pitch in the 1-0 win but warmed up extensively and will benefit from their involvement ahead of potentially playing against QPR next week. Simply being in and around the first team squad, watching the big names first hand on a match night and experiencing the atmosphere is a key part of individual development, and these three have every chance of featuring in the Carling Cup tie.
They did all feature on Wednesday though, on a day of friendly action at Cobham. Steve Holland’s Reserves beat Ipswich Town 5-2 courtesty of a Daniel Sturridge hat-trick, with a goal each from Borini and Bruma, the latter with a sumptuous free-kick. Nemanja Matic also made his first appearance in a blue shirt as he recovers from a broken foot. Elsewhere on site, Brendan Rodgers was back to watch his Reading Under-18s beat Chelsea’s 2-1, with Philipp Prosenik scoring in a match managed by Adrian Viveash, allowing Dermot Drummy the chance to watch as several of his players tried out new roles.
Thursday saw Jacob Mellis called up to the England Under-19 squad for their qualifier against Slovenia, in a party which also includes ex-Blue Frank Nouble. It was also confirmed that 17 year-old goalkeeper Matej Delac is officially a Chelsea-owned player, joining up with the club no sooner than twelve months time, but no longer than two years. It’s likely he will arrive in January of 2011, and will continue to play for Inter Zapresic until then, as he presses closer to starting for the Croatian national team before he even turns 18 (and that gives him eleven months!).
In the evening, Miroslav Stoch lined up for FC Twente in perhaps his most intimidating match to date, at the 55,000 full Sukru Saracoglu stadium away to Fenerbahce. He was subdued in his 70 minutes on the pitch, mustering just one effort at goal as the hosts dominated. He had the last laugh though, as a brace from Blaise N’Kufo saw Steve McClaren’s team win 2-1 and start their Europa League campaign successfully.
In other loan action, Ryan Bertrand’s Reading once again failed to find the back of the net and fell 1-0 at home to Cardiff, although he reportedly did well going forward again, a developing trend this season. Jack Cork, meanwhile, was involved in a ding-dong clash as Coventry beat Sheffield United 3-2 at the Ricoh Arena.
This weekend sees Chelsea’s Under-18s take on Watford at Cobham. You can expect a full report on CFCnet on Saturday afternoon.