COBHAM HOSTS PREMIER LEAGUE REFEREE
It was a busy day at Cobham on Thursday as the squad reconvened following international duty, with a number of special guests also in attendance.
Prior to training, the squad was given a presentation by representatives from the Premier League, PFA and LMA, before referee Lee Probert went through changes to the rules and interpretations ahead of the new season.
The Wiltshire official, who has been a top-level referee since 2007, spoke with the players at length before joining those who had been on international duty in a light training session. It is the seventh year such visits have been made by referees to clubs, and is now mandatory for all 20 teams in the league.
'All the referees now go into the Premier League clubs and train with the boys but we have an important message to give them, in terms of what's expected throughout the season,' Probert said.
'Today has been really good, they took on board what I said, we looked at some video clips and it's important we can break down these barriers and work together on and off the field.
'I just spoke to a couple of them during training and they said they felt sorry for us after refereeing some training games, so they do recognise what a difficult job we do, but they have a difficult one to do as well to make sure they win games, so we are all in the same boat!'
Thursday's main session included those players who had not played for their countries this week, and was conducted at a high tempo in the Surrey sun. Absent was Victor Moses, who was making his way back from South Africa, while Cesar Azpilicueta arrived from Ecuador just as the others were trooping back in.
Watching were five young guests of the Chelsea Foundation, all of whom are suffering from serious illnesses, and their families, and after the session the group all met the players for photos and autographs.
'It's really fabulous,' said Rad Novakovic, father of seven-year-old Alex, who suffers from a brain tumour. 'The whole family supports Chelsea. He loves Chelsea and Frank Lampard is his favourite player, but he also wanted to meet the others.
'It's a special day out, and great to meet them and be able to associate to them on TV. It's the right thing to do, there are other kids here suffering but we have all bonded and mixed.'