When Chelsea’s Under-21 team depart for their pre-season trip to the United States on Tuesday, a relatively unfamiliar face will be amongst them.
Jack Powell, a midfielder who had spent the last ten years at West Ham United, has been training with Dermot Drummy’s group since returning from the summer holidays and will be aboard the plan headed for New York City and Philadelphia.
Born and raised in East London, Powell worked his way through the Hammers’ academy to earn a scholarship and a pro deal but was released at the end of last season. He previously scored a winning goal against Chelsea’s Under-18 team in 2012 and whilst an end-of-season trial at Charlton Athletic in April came to nothing, he now finds himself at Cobham working with the Blues’ development squad.
The Under-21s and Under-18s have been training as a combined group so far in this fledgling pre-season and another new face in the ranks is that of former Wolverhampton Wanderers schoolboy Marcus Barnes. The younger brother of former Derby County midfielder Giles Barnes, Marcus broke into the Under-18 team at Wolves last season and impressed in spells, but was curiously not amongst their group of first-year scholars announced at the end of May.
The contractual status of both Powell and Barnes going forward is uncertain but Chelsea are at least running the rule over two more English youngsters, following on from the signing of Kasey Palmer from Charlton in March and the ongoing process of signing Isaiah Brown from West Bromwich Albion.
For more information on the two players and the rest of the academy as it develops, follow @chelseayouth on Twitter.