Chelsea this afternoon depart English shores ahead of their Asian tour and manager Andre Villas-Boas has included a smattering of youth in his travelling party.
In his two pre-season victories over Wycombe Wanderers and Portsmouth, the Portuguese boss has given opportunities to a clutch of reserve team players and whilst not all of them will make the trip to Malaysia and beyond, there are enough travelling to create a keen sense of intrigue.
Chief amongst them is 16 year-old Nathaniel Chalobah, who played at centre-back for the second half at Fratton Park after a busy summer with England’s Under-17 squad.
He doesn’t turn 17 until December but his ascension to Villas-Boas’ ranks is nothing new to a player who has been playing above his age group since before he was a teenager.
Chalobah is joined by Billy Clifford as well as a trio of players who have featured in the first team in Josh McEachran, Patrick van Aanholt and Ryan Bertrand, whilst oft-loaned Serbian defender Slobodan Rajkovic is on the plane too.
Czech centre-back Tomas Kalas has been released to join up with his nation Under-19 squad ahead of their European Championships, a move which has been allowed with Alex now able to return to training after a recent injury.
Carl Magnay, Kaby and Milan Lalkovic were unused subs at Portsmouth but are not expected to make the trip to Asia, and will instead join up with the reserve squad which has jetted to Austria for a week.
Gael Kakuta and Matej Delac are at the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia and will not be involved in club pre-season.
Chelsea kick off their Asian tour against a Malaysian XI on Thursday before a meeting with the Thailand All Stars next Sunday evening. They then move on to Hong Kong for the Premier League Asia Trophy, where they first play Kitchee FC before meeting either Aston Villa or Blackburn Rovers in a tournament televised live on Sky Sports.