Despite possessing one of the strongest defensive lines in the entire Premier League, the Blues can suffer if faced with the threat of injuries and Pat Nevin has backed two young options in an interview with Chelsea's official website.
Jose Mourinho has six top-class defenders at his disposal, many of whom are adaptable enough to play in various positions, and the Portuguese coach is well settled upon which back-line is his strongest. John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta are consistent choices, whilst Kurt Zouma and Filipe Luis can fill in when required.
While every single name mentioned would likely get into any other top-flight team, should just two defenders be struck down by injury, Chelsea would only have four to call upon on matchdays, and they would be living with the fear that they may not have a full-strength defensive unit.
Speaking to the official Chelsea website, Nevin listed two options to provide cover in defence, and utilising youth was one of his choices, despite the risks involved with playing young defenders.
“Option two is of course youth,” the Scotsman said. “Strenuous efforts have been made to produce young talent at Cobham and a quick look at the crop shows some real talent. Man United have certainly utilised some of their kids this season, even if there have been variable levels of success to be absolutely honest.
“So Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen would love the opportunity, along with some younger bucks but there is a brutal problem for these young defenders, indeed any young defenders. It is far easier to break in anywhere else in a top side than at the back. A striker, midfielder or winger can make lots of little mistakes and they are rarely catastrophic. One mistake at the back and a goal, game, points or indeed a cup campaign can be lost.”
Thankfully for Chelsea, serious injuries have not been a worry this term, and the only time Mourinho has had to deal with a defender being out of action was when Azpilicueta was sent off in the victory over Crystal Palace near the start of the campaign - forcing him to miss three games as a result.
Yet, the coach could be forced to rotate his squad in the coming days, with the Spanish international full-back pulling up in the victory over Newcastle.