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 Sam Hutchinson.
Club: Nottingham Forest
Appearances: 9 (1 goal)
Just when you think the Sam Hutchinson story can’t get more disappointing, it does. The feel-good tale of 2011-12, Sam’s return from retirement and carefully-managed Under-21 campaign saw a number of strides taken and a first start for the first team under Roberto Di Matteo on the final day of the season.
Having missed so much football over the course of his career, getting out on loan and playing as much as his body allowed was imperative and so a move to Nottingham Forest, initially on a six-month basis, was a huge step and one which looked to have been inspired early in the season. He worked his way into the starting eleven quickly and scored his first goal in professional football in a win over Charlton in September.
Things then went in an all too familiar direction. A seemingly innocuous short-term problem degenerated into a serious knee injury – albeit in Sam’s less problematic knee – and he had to return to Chelsea for treatment. Forest claimed that Chelsea’s medical team ventured into a procedure which should have accelerated his rehabilitation but it had the adverse effect and ended up sidelining him for six months.
Whether true or not, it was another season of misery for the young defender, who remarkably remained upbeat throughout. Forest showed a lot of faith in extending his deal until the end of the season and got him back for four games in March and April as they chased a playoff place but came up short in the last minute of the season.
Sam’s contract at Chelsea is due to expire this summer, but the club have an option to extend the deal one more year. He turns 24 in August, which seems absurd, and whilst sentiment will threaten to impact things – and perhaps it should to a degree – there will come a point where the player himself will want to get on with his career or, sadly, decide that it’s really not worth all the hassle.
It’s a delicate situation for everyone involved and the respective options will have been at the forefront of their minds for some time now. Chelsea know Sam’s body better than any other club and are best placed to deal with him on a week-by-week basis, but unless he can contribute effectively – since he would need to be registered in Premier League and Champions League squads – it might not be quite so simple to keep hold of him.
Hopefully things work themselves out for the best and that the future is more positive than the last five years have been.