Late September invariably means a new England Under-16 generation is presented to the world for the first time as Kenny Swain and his group gear up for the annual Sky Sports Victory Shield during the closing months of the year.
In recent years Chelsea have had an excellent presence in the schoolboy squad and this year is no exception, with four Blues youngsters making the cut for the first squad to play Northern Ireland in mid October.
Defenders Ola Aina and Aaron Hayden are joined by midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the attack-minded Connor Hunte in Swain’s 18-man party, with no other club featuring more than two players.
The young quartet took part in the annual Under-16 training camp at Keele University during early August (which featured some 40 of the nation’s premier young footballers) and were joined by team-mates Alex Kiwomya and Charlie Colkett, who have not been included in the first squad of the season but are expected to play against either Wales or Scotland.
All six were part of Chelsea’s squad which took part in the Manchester United Premier Cup during the summer, a competition in which the club finished fourth as Europe’s highest-placed team.
Joe Edwards’ team dominated the regional UK Finals in May and went into the finals in Manchester as favourites, but after dominant group stage performances they fell to eventual winners Pachuca in the Semi Finals.
However, their performances did not go unnoticed as England scouts came away enamoured with the ability on show and they will now be able to showcase it with the Three Lions on their chest.
Naturally, as the boys are all under the age of sixteen it’s only appropriate to talk about them in so much detail, but Loftus-Cheek in particular has made progress beyond his age group and has played very well for Adie Viveash’s Under-18 team so far this season, scoring three goals and playing in all three midfield roles and at centre-back.
The captain of the Premier Cup side, he received England calls last season but twice had to pull out with injury problems which curtailed much of his club involvement during 2010-11.
Last season saw six Chelsea academy prospects play for Swain as Jordan Houghton, Fankaty Dabo, John Swift, Ali Gordon, George Cole and Reece Mitchell played key roles in victorious tournaments at home and abroad.
The Blues also had captains at every England age group except Under-19, and have an astounding 24 players on their books who have played for the country’s national team.
Four more boys have been handed their chance as the future looks increasingly blue.