Loanee Review: Billy Clifford

To round up the 2012-13 youth football season at Chelsea, we’re reviewing every single one of the Chelsea youngsters currently on the books who have spent time out on loan during the campaign. Here, we focus on Billy Clifford.

Club: Colchester United
Appearances: 18 (1 goal)

The Story
Having proved himself far too good to be playing regularly at Under-21 level, and with no first team opportunities coming his way (well, he doesn’t have a Brazilian or Dutch name not the high price tag that comes with it), a loan move was top of Billy Clifford’s must-do list for 2012-13. Despite being hawked to a handful of Championship clubs, none of them took a chance on the versatile midfielder, and their loss turned out to be Colchester United’s gain.

Initially lining up in attacking midfield before being used commonly in the two-man midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation not dissimilar to the one utilised by Chelsea, Clifford was entrusted with being the fulcrum of Colchester’s play under manager Joe Dunne and proved himself extremely adept, providing impetus (not to mention a number of set-piece assists) and flair as the U’s staged a sensational second half of the season turnaround to avoid relegation.

The Future
Billy clearly enjoyed his first taste of the professional game and the tangible meaning and reward that comes with every game. He’ll turn 21 early next season and has a couple of years remaining on his deal at Stamford Bridge, so you would imagine another loan spell is in the offing. Hopefully, those Championship clubs which chose to pass on him earlier this season will have had a re-think and he gets the chance to try his arm in the second tier, because everything he’s shown over the last two seasons or so suggests he’s more than capable of succeeding.