In the continuation of our look at some of the key performers from the first half of this year’s reserve and youth campaign, we taken a look at George Saville.
Alongside yesterday’s feature Todd Kane, George is the only other player to have a 100% appearance record in the Under-18 league, and he too has featured in a number of different roles so far.
A left-back for much of his junior education at Chelsea, Saville debuted in the youth team as a scholar in midfield, partly due to a healthy representation at his ‘preferred’ position, but also because his playing style lent itself well to the move.
He impressed with his confidence and patience on the ball, his poise and his commitment to the tackle, all the while learning the nuances and intricacies of the game.
Having signed a professional deal in the summer, he continues to develop in the youth team, and has lent his experience in a side featuring a number of schoolboys by becoming a leader, as well as helping out in many different ways.
Since August, regular watchers of Dermot Drummy’s side will have seen Saville play at centre-back and in all three midfield roles used when the 4-3-3 formation is deployed. Additionally, when the diamond formation has been in effect, George has played at both the tip and the base.
Part of being able to contribute in a more advanced midfield role is to be effective in the attacking third, and whilst he is yet to open his competitive account, he did find the net in consecutive pre-season games and has gone close more often this season than at any point in 2009-10.
Like Kane, George has also made steps into Steve Holland’s reserve team setup, coming off the bench twice so far to add to his solitary appearance from last year, and as we go into 2011 he will hope to be a key part of the FA Youth Cup side as well as stepping up on a more regular basis.
With approaching forty total appearances in academy football, it’s been interesting and revealing to watch his progress, as not many players will play quite so many games at this level, but it has been very beneficial for him to have done so.
Those who have watched him since a younger age will also have noted that his height has shot up remarkably since becoming a scholar, for he was once much shorter. He now stands at 186cm, which in turn gives us a chance to make a point about how the academy staff go about appraising physical prowess.
Some players will be ready to compete from a much younger age – you need to look no further than Daniel Pappoe, who was built like an adult from the age of 12 – but others will take much longer to grow into themselves.
It’s not an exact science but it can be predicted with some confidence based on family genetics. Many first team managers – notably Sir Alex Ferguson – will take this into account when signing younger players, and it’s something which was, in hindsight, evident for George.
Older brother Jack arrived from Reading with him when Brendan Rodgers joined in 2005, and whilst George was shorter, Jack towered above him. This will certainly have been noted, as his brother is now just 4cm shorter than him.
Growing in stature both physically and as a footballer, 2011 will be an interesting year for an interesting young Chelsea player.