Since losing 4-0 at Wolves last time out, there’s been a few bits and pieces of news on the Reserve team front, so we’ll take a look at what’s been going on, starting with today’s win over Bayern Munich.
With the schedule for the second string still far from ideal, Chelsea have continued to look for friendlies against a wide range of opposition, and the first foreign opponent of this campaign came against a formidable European name.
Two goals apiece from Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini ensured a 4-0 win, and a repeat of the scoreline the Blues beat AC Milan by in a similar fixture two years ago.
Steve Holland was able to name a strong side, with first team squad members Ross Turnbull, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt, Gael Kakuta and Josh McEachran joining Sturridge in the starting eleven, with Borini coming on at the break.
There was, however, room for 15 year-old Nathaniel Chalobah, whilst Gokhan Tore was able to return from a recent injury.
The visitors used a mix of their ‘II’ team (the equivalent of a reserve unit) and their Under-19 team, and included five players who have previously played at Cobham as Under-16s in the Cobham Invitational Tournament of 2008.
In terrible conditions, the fixture ended up being particularly one-sided, with Chelsea dominant from start to finish. After a profligate spell in the first half, Sturridge opened the scoring after fine work from Billy Clifford, before he turned provider early in the second to give Borini his first of the day.
A red card for Jon Fjolusen and a disallowed effort from Jacopo Sala later, Sturridge put the seal on th game with a fizzing finish after nice movement on the edge of the area, and Borini ended with a flourish after Clifford once again made an impact in the final third.
As highlighted by Holland after the game, these matches are of great benefit to the team and the academy as a whole, as they provide something completely different. Different tactical approaches, different technical styles and a difference pace of football are all on the table in such a fixture, and as the young Blues seek to develop their careers, these matches will help shape their profile, for want of a better word.
Celtic recently announced a series of friendlies which were arranged as part of a pilot scheme for something of a ‘European Reserve Competition’, and whilst that may be in its most fledgling of stages, the idea and the potential it holds is exciting.
Also exciting is the news today that Josh McEachran has been called up to the England Under-21 squad by Stuart Pearce. He joins Ryan Bertrand, Michael Mancienne and Jack Cork in representing the club and it marks another step in his recent rise from youth team football.
The seventeen year-old midfielder has recently moved into the first team building at Cobham, meaning he is treated as a full member of Carlo Ancelotti’s squad, and has earned the trust of Carlo Ancelotti – to a degree.
Rumours of Fabio Capello ear-marking him as a potential inclusion for England in Euro 2012 may be wide of the mark for now, but next week’s friendly against Germany will provide Josh with the chance to impress ahead of the European Under-21 Championships next summer.
With internationals looming on the horizon, McEachran is joined by Borini, Bruma and van Aanholt in Under-21 selection by their respective countries, whilst Kakuta will join up with a French Under-20 training squad at Clairefontaine. Gokhan Tore, meanwhile, is set for inclusiop in Guus Hiddink’s future plans for Turkey, be it in the full squad this month, or their newly created ‘A2’ team.
We’ll finish on the injury front, where Milan Lalkovic has recovered from a hamstring problem and should be ready for a comeback in the Under-18s in the coming weeks, but unfortunately Carl Magnay’s rehabilitation from a terrible knee injury has taken a setback.
The Northern Irish youth defender has been out since March and was close to a comeback, but has had to have further surgery which will sideline him for at least six weeks. He joins Marko Mitrovic and Rohan Ince on the sidelines, and best wishes from all at TheChels go towards them and their convalesence.