This evening sees the start of Chelsea’s latest overseas youth adventure, as the club returns to the Dallas Cup intent on going one better than they did in 2007, and win the competition.

It’s been something of a successful campaign for the young Blues, but one which is far from over yet and indeed, the real glory is still to come. Dermot Drummy takes a squad of 22 players over to Dallas for a week and the aim is very much to come back with the trophy. Three years ago a team featuring Ben Sahar, Sam Hutchinson, Liam Bridcutt and others reached the Final but fell short in the Final, losing 1-0 to Sao Paulo.

Most of this, of course, was covered in this piece in early February when Chelsea’s involvement in the competition was officially announced, so if you wish to read more about the 2007 competition and the Dallas Cup in general, have a gander at that. The Blues open the competition at Pizza Hut Park today against FC Dallas before playing Monterrey and Alajuelense in the coming days, with a potential Semi Final on Friday and Final a week today.

There have been a few alterations from the initial squad list for a number of reasons. Ben Gordon has joined Tranmere Rovers on loan, Conor Clifford has an ankle injury and will remain in England to recover before joining up with the first team to train, whilst James Ashton remains on the long-term injury list and Billy Knott has parted company with the club. It means that the door has opened to three schoolboys who are set to win scholarships for the start of next season. Full-back Todd Kane has played for the Under-18s already this season, and is joined by classy midfielder Danny Stenning and versatile defender Archange Nkumu, neither of whom have played at the next level yet. Niclas Heimann fills the final spot to back up Sam Walker in goal, and there is one further surprise inclusion, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The squad list in full:

1. Sam Walker
2. Nikki Ahamed
3. Kenny Strickland
4. Daniel Mills Pappoe
5. Todd Kane
6. Danny Stenning
7. Jacopo Sala
8. Kaby
9. Daniel Philliskirk
10. Jhon Pirez
11. Gokhan Tore
12. Milan Lalkovic
13. Niclas Heimann
14. Rohan Ince
15. Bobby Devyne
16. Aziz Deen-Conteh
17. Billy Clifford
18. Archange Nkumu
19. Marko Mitrovic
20. George Saville
21. Ben Sampayo
22. Anton Rodgers

Josh McEachran is on England Under-17 duty for the week and has been replaced by Jhon Pirez. Pirez, you may remember, is a Uruguayan forward who spent the summer of 2008 on trial at Cobham and did enough in Under-18 pre-season as a 15 year-old to earn a permanent contract. He played for the schoolboy Under-16 team in 2008/09 but when his scholarship year came up last summer he disappeared from radar both here and in Uruguay. His re-appearance is an interesting one, and whatever future he has with Chelsea will become clearer over the course of the week.

You can keep right up to date on Chelsea’s involvement in the Dallas Cup here on CFCnet both in the build-up to the competition and right throughout the tournament itself. Visit the Official Tournament Website for a complete run-down of how things are going and how it all works, and don’t forget you can also follow events on Twitter, either on @chelseayouth or @dallascup.

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