Part of a young player’s development is understanding and experiencing different positions on the pitch.
Many an individual will spend time working on and playing in an unfamiliar role to expand their knowledge of the game, and how another player in the team will see things from ther place.
In the first of a series of looks at members of the youth and reserve teams who have performed well in the first half of the season, we focus on first-year scholar Todd Kane.
The Cambridgeshire-born boy has been with Chelsea since the age of seven, and has, by and large, spent most of his junior development at right-back.
It was in this position he broke into the Under-18 team late last season as a schoolboy (although as a September-born he had long since been 16), and he impressed in five outings, even grabbing a goal against Ipswich at the end of the campaign.
As a full-time scholar in 2010-11 though, Todd has played in a multitude of positions and roles, as Dermot Drummy’s squad has been stretched and hit by injury.
In addition to featuring at full-back, he has often played as part of a three-man midfield, and on occasion has lined up as the right sided flanker in the trio of attacking players.
Mostly through necessity rather than by design, the decision to use him in a more advanced role has reaped rewards, as he leads the youth team’s goalscoring charts.
Kane has scored six goals in thirteen appearances – one of only two players to have an ever-present record so far as well – and has been as much of a goal threat as anyone else in the team, despite his defensive background.
Mind you, his game certainly lends itself to a more attacking nature. Endless stamina and an exceptional work rate are the foundation of a very solid game which is being rounded and refined at an impressive rate.
Not many new scholars get to step up to the reserve team so early, but Todd has made one start and one sub appearance for Steve Holland’s side so far, and almost grabbed himself a goal in the recent away game against West Ham United.
The versatility in his game is evident throughout, perhaps nowhere more clearly than in the goals he has scored. Penalties, rasping drives, far post arrivals on cue and sensational long-range blockbusters – they’re all part of the arsenal and make him a threat to contribute at any moment.
A confident yet understated attitude suggests that he can make a name for himself, but it is also important to ensure that feet remain on the ground and expectations are tempered to a more realistic level, as they should be for everyone at the club.
By continuing in such a rich vein of form when the league restarts in the new year, Kane should receive more opportunities to play at the next level, particularly when Billy Clifford is the only recognised right-back ahead of him in the pecking order.
It’s a position the club doesn’t have great home-grown depth in, and one which has been a problem for the first team for some time, at least in relation to the rest of the eleven.
He might be a long way off yet, but Todd Kane has certainly made a striking start to his Chelsea career, in more ways than one.