Football

Chelsea's youngsters hold the key to reinvigorating their season

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Chelsea's most recent defeat, at home to Southampton, meant that last year's champions go into the international break languishing in 16th position in the Premier League, four points above the relegation zone.

Jose Mourinho's post-match interviews and press conferences stole the headlines. A seven-minute rant addressed points such as a potential resignation, as well as a routine gripe at the match officials.

However, one point that Mourinho made amongst the fury was that he was ready to hear the fans' call for youth.

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One name that Mourinho confirmed would be given a chance in the side was that of starlet Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Introduced to the first team squad towards the end of last season, Loftus-Cheek has impressed in brief appearances against the likes of Crystal Palace and Maccabi Tel-Aviv this season.

Of the England U-21 international, Mourinho said: "Clearly it's time - not to play four, five or six kids because some of them are not ready - but I think Ruben is the one who is more ready.

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"If everything goes normally in the next two weeks yes, he is a player to start the next game and have a run of matches to try and get that stability as a first-team choice."

The majority of Chelsea fans will no doubt be delighted with that news, having not seen a player progress from the academy to the first-team since John Terry.

One of the more recent objectives of Chelsea and Roman Abramovich has been to create an academy capable of producing world-class talent. While the circumstances have forced this move rather than it being a desired choice of Mourinho, it is no doubt a step in the right direction for Chelsea's youth system.

Mourinho has shown interest in developing the young talent at the club since his return, handing first-team debuts to players such as Loftus-Cheek, Isaiah Brown, Dominic Solanke, Lewis Baker and Andreas Christensen.

However, only Loftus-Cheek has not since been sent away to continue his development elsewhere. This has allowed him to be available to step into the boots of the under-performing stars and stake his claim for a regular starting spot.

The youngster's inclusion is not just one to satisfy the board. With Chelsea's current state of affairs, Mourinho obviously sees the ability in Loftus-Cheek to help turn around Chelsea's season.

The 19-year-old will add dynamism, pace and power to a Chelsea midfield that has so far been lacking with the performances of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic this season.

Teams have cut through the spine of Chelsea's team almost at will this season, exploiting the lack of pace and energy through the middle of the team. Loftus-Cheek's inclusion could go some way to repairing that, despite the fact that he is far from the finished product.

Mourinho has spoken of Loftus-Cheek's need to improve the tactical side of his game, which can only be done with match experience. His energy and drive from midfield should add more to the Chelsea team than they would lose due to his youth.

The Englishman is not the only young player pushing for a starting berth. Brazilian summer-signing Kenedy impressed in the Capital One Cup tie against Walsall, scoring his first Chelsea goal and also registering an assist.

Returned loanee Bertrand Traore will also be looking for an opportunity in the coming weeks having impressed on loan at Vitesse last season, scoring 14 goals in the Eredivisie.

Chelsea's team has looked mentally and psychologically exhausted of late. The freshness that the youngsters could bring, mixed with the experience of some of Chelsea's senior players could present and exciting proposition moving forward for the rest of the season.

The younger players should be able to play with freedom and not feel the pressure. An injection of youth could also be wake-up call that under-performing stars such as Eden Hazard and Fabregas need to kick-start their own seasons. 

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Topics:
Premier League
Chelsea
Football

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