Young midfielder Liam Bridcutt has issued a strong statement of support for his fellow Chelsea team-mates ahead of their crucial FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg against Aston Villa on Wednesday night.18-year-old Bridcutt was the top appearance maker for Chelsea’s youth side last season but is currently away from Stamford Bridge and on loan at League One side Yeovil Town. While he is turning out for the Glovers at the moment to collect some vital experience, he knows first-hand how strong the Chelsea academy is.
“I think that’s the best we’ve actually done in years,” the Reading-born teenager remarks when asked if he has been keeping up with the competition. “We’ve got a good team, a good squad, and hopefully they’ll go all the way and win it.”
Bridcutt joined Yeovil on a short-term deal back in February and started to cement a place in the starting line-up before illness kept him out of recent games. Russell Slade-manager of the Somerset outfit-described Bridcutt as: “A Michael Essien-style midfielder,” after announcing the signing, and the dynamic youngster is grateful for the move and how it came about.
“I had a call from my agent [from Yeovil],” Bridcutt begins. “I came down for a weeks training just to get to know the boys and have a look around. I liked the boys, the facilities and the manager so I ended up signing.
“I get on well with most of the boys, there’s no-one that I don’t get on with and I think they’ve all taken to me.”
With first-team squad member Scott Sinclair currently on loan at Charlton Athletic, while as many as twelve other Chelsea players are being borrowed by other clubs this season, Bridcutt-who signed a pro contract with the club in Summer 2007-appreciates the need to perhaps take one step backwards in order to take two forward in the future.
“Loans are all about getting experience and getting games under your belt. You learn your trade really,” he explains.
“I’m only young, still learning the game, and I’ve had the luck to come down to Yeovil, a decent club, and they’ve given me the opportunity to show what I can do really.”
Despite the constantly rising standard of youth football, Bridcutt-who has successfully made the step up to reserve football at the Blues-also understands the differences between second-string sides and league clubs.
He says: “You’ve come from the youth team or reserves and it’s a big step up to play in league football. It’s a lot more physical, a lot quicker and I’d recommend it to any young boy coming through [the ranks].”
However, he still appreciates the ability shown by Chelsea’s youth side in their impressive run to the Semi-Finals of the FA Youth Cup. Bridcutt has praise for the whole side, but picks out a few names in particular as potential stars.
“A few of the foreign boys that have come over from Spain like Sergio [Tejera] and the Portuguese boys have had to learn the language, adapt to English football and the weather,” he explains, “And I think they’ve done that brilliantly.
“One of the boys called Shaun Cummings I’ve known for a few years now, and I’ve grown up with him and come through the youth system with him. This year and last year he’s improved tremendously really.”
He also mentioned Gael Kakuta, the lively French attacking midfielder and potential tie-winner on Wednesday night against Aston Villa with the scores level at 1-1 following the first leg at Stamford Bridge on March 7th.
“When he first came [to Chelsea] some of the skills he would do in training and in games…” he pauses, lost for words like many fans have been this season while watching Kakuta’s silky style of play.
“Usually you see people do skills in training and they don’t do that in games, but he’s got that confidence and he’s a quality player. A really good player.”
With the Semi-Final tie poised on a knife-edge, and a two-legged final against Manchester City’s youth side waiting for either Chelsea or Aston Villa, Bridcutt will be keeping tabs on his team-mates at Villa Park on Wednesday evening. While he won’t be taking the field himself, he believes the squad the Blues put out on the night is strong enough to succeed.
And with the calibre of players Chelsea are producing this season, Bridcutt included, there is no reason why they can’t.