Former Atletico Madrid winger Ivan Calero, now at Derby County, praised former teammates Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa on Monday, labelling them ‘top, top players’.
Derby will go head-to-head with Chelsea on Tuesday night, with a place in the Capital One Cup semi-finals at stake.
Although there are, unsurprisingly, very few connections between the clubs heading into quarter-final clash, an Atletico reunion could be one.
In the summer, Calero joined Luis, Costa and Courtois on the list of departures from the Spanish side and the game on Tuesday night is the first chance they have had to meet up on a professional level.
‘’I don’t speak to them too much [Courtois, Luis and Costa],’’ Calero told dcfc.co.uk.
‘’I trained sometimes with them, or sometimes, against them. Everybody knows about these players and the rest of the Chelsea team. They are top, top players. International players and they are really good.
‘’You could spend only a few minutes with these types of players and you are learning something new. They are top players, so you have to learn from them. Hopefully, it’s going to be difficult, but I hope we win. We need to play as well as we know.’’
All three of Chelsea’s former Atletico Madrid stars have been named in the squad that will travel to Derby, and there is a good chance all three will be utilised from the start. However, Calero may not be so lucky.
After making a positive start to life at the iPro, the 19-year-old is settling in well but faces very stiff competition.
Jamie Ward is likely to make a return for the Rams, and along with Simon Dawkins, Jordon Ibe and Johnny Russell already in the same position, it could be another case of the youngster just missing out on the matchday squad.
Nevertheless, whether he plays or not, Calero refuted the idea that he needs to warn his teammates about his former training partners as their quality is already well-documented.
‘’I haven’t spoken to the lads [Derby teammates] too much,’’ Calero added. "They are clever enough to know what they have to do. Chelsea are a really big team and they are doing really well this year. We have got to be focused in the game and try our best to win.’’