Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Izzy Brown and Andreas Christensen are starting to become consistent fixtures in matchday squads, along with Nathan Ake, and they are also occasionally taking to the pitch as late substitutes in games. Midfielder Loftus-Cheek made his league debut in the 1-1 home draw with Manchester City, whilst defender Chistensen has FA and League Cup experience to his name, and it is expected that Brown’s turn will be next.
The use of these youngsters represents a positive move towards Chelsea’s future, with the club often derided for their work with youth. John Terry was the last player to progress from the academy system to first-team regular, making his debut in 1998 and making consistent appearances by the 2000/01 season.
The current academy system has a number of players in it who are considered bright stars for the future - with a host of youth internationals across Under-18 and Under-21 sides - and the incorporation of such talent in the first-team can only pay dividends.
Considering the move to promote these young players came out of nowhere, it has been greeted as a positive surprise by Chelsea fans, and head coach Jose Mourinho has revealed to the official Chelsea website why he has started to utilise the likes of Loftus-Cheek and Brown.
Mourinho said: “It’s a decision we made. It’s a way to find conditions to pay some high salaries, when you have four or five young boys coming from the Academy who in the beginning you obviously pay lower than that.
“It’s also to try to give them a chance. In this moment we have on the bench Christensen, Ake, Loftus-Cheek. Even if they’re not playing – because the moment hasn’t arrived for them to play a lot yet – to train with the first team, to be on the bench, to feel the pressure of a big game, all this is important for their development.
“It’s about the potential of the players and it’s about opportunities. It doesn’t have to be about confidence or age; it has to be about talent.”
Despite the presence of these players in the matchday squad, nothing but competitive minutes will help to turn them into first-team stars, and many are hoping that they start to make an on-pitch impact in the remainder of the season.