YOUTH DOUBLE WORKOUT

The Under-18 squad faced the stern test of two games in as many days over the weekend as their pre-season campaign kicked up a gear.

The academy squad have been boosted this summer by a new intake of scholars, as they prepare not only for a new league campaign and the defence of the FA Youth Cup, but also the participation for the first time in the NextGen Series, a European competition for Under-19s.

Viveash's priority was to give the majority of his players a full 90 minutes of action across the two fixtures, as the focus remained on regaining fitness and match practise at this early stage of the season. A select few of the squad, including Mitchell Beeney, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Alex Kiwomya, had joined Dermot Drummy's Under-21 contingent on their annual training camp in Austria, so an opportunity was presented for a number of Under-16s to step up an age group and impress.

First came the visit of Arsenal when, after a closely fought and entertaining contest, the Blues eventually went down 3-2. Only Ben Killip, the goalkeeper, played 90 minutes as a gradual procession of changes were made throughout the second half. Last year's FA Youth Cup winners Ali Gordon and Reece Mitchell started, while Nortei Nortey was introduced after the interval.

The visitors managed to overturn a 2-1 half-time deficit thanks to some clinical finishing in front of goal. Chelsea pushed for an equaliser as the game neared its conclusion but were thwarted by some good goalkeeping and resolute defensive work. Nevertheless, Viveash had managed to bring 21 of his squad into the action at some point in the match, an outcome perhaps more important to him than the final result.

Bristol City arrived at Cobham on Saturday for their second outing in two days also, having played the previous evening. A full 11 changes were made for Chelsea as the squad was used to its fullest extent and the hosts ran out eventual 4-0 winners but had Killip to thank for a couple of impressive stops as the visitors searched for a consolation strike.

Viveash was pleased with the outcome of the two-day test for his players.

'The two games in two days have been good for everybody's fitness and now we look forward to going to Asia,' he said.

'The two games were very different but in terms of our preparation I was pleased with both. Arsenal are a very good team and it was a tough early pre-season match. Both games we learnt things from and there is a lot to work on, the boys are still finding their feet and getting used to each other.'

The squad will fly out this week and take in matches against both the Thailand and Malaysian Under-19s in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.