Chelsea’s injury issues have seen a number of youngsters feature in first team training and on Mauricio Pochettino’s bench
While Chelsea’s early season form came into question following their draw against Bournemouth on Sunday, it was difficult to ignore the make-up of the Blues’ substitutes for the clash. Only Ben Chilwell had more than three Premier League starts and only three of nine players had featured for the west London side in the competition at all.
Chilwell, Ian Maatsen and Cole Palmer came off the bench with Chelsea in search of goal in the second period against the Cherries, with Mauricio Pochettino’s remaining options made up of goalkeepers Lucas Bergstrom and Djordje Petrovic, and Aflie Gilchrist, who has signed a new deal with the club, Alex Matos, Ronnie Stutter and Deivid Washington. Matos and Stutter were making their first appearance in a first team squad.
Such youth was inevitable with Pochettino presiding over a lengthy injury list at the moment. The Blues boss confirmed that Moises Caicedo and Noni Madueke returned from international duty with issues, while Marc Cucurella missed out on the squad at the weekend due to a fever to add to the absences of the likes of Reece James and Christopher Nkunku.
Cucurella and Madueke have now returned to training, while there also remains anticipation over the possible returns of Benoit Badiashile and Armando Broja. However, there remains the possibility that members of the development squad could make the bench depending the groups readiness to compete in matches.
Having missed their Premier League International Cup match against Lyon at the weekend due to first team duties, Matos, Stutter and Washington were all involved in a Premier League Cup 4-1 win over Luton Town on Tuesday night. Their place in first team training appears to have been taken up by other young prospects however, who might hope they could have an opportunity come the weekend though, there will be an under-21 Premier League fixture against Manchester City on Friday night to take into account too.
Ishe Samuels-Smith was involved with the senior side at Cobham having already been on the bench this season for the Carabao Cup win over AFC Wimbledon. A number of academy products were part of the senior group for the day, including Travis Akomeah and Harrison Murray-Campbell, but Samuels-Smith was the figure to make the cut to officially be named in the squad.
Young striker Jimmy-Jay Morgan has also been pictured in training this week, and like Samuels-Smith, missed out on the under-21 win over Luton. The 17-year-old Morgan joined the Blues at the end of the January transfer window and has netted three times in four appearances this season.
Under-18 youngster Ato Ampah also appeared to participate in the session having featured from the bench in the EFL Trophy for the under-21 side and has also recorded three goals and three assists in as many matches in the under-18 Premier League.
Pochettino will hope to have more senior stars to call upon for the Stamford Bridge clash with Aston Villa on Sunday, but the involvement of the young trio in Chelsea’s Premier League 2 clash with Manchester City could be informative of whether an opportunity for any awaits.