OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Having been afforded the opportunity to oversee first team training sessions during the international break, Under-21s manager Dermot Drummy has been reflecting on an important time, not just in his own development, but also that of his young side.

With the majority of the first team squad heading off to represent their respective nations, Jose Mourinho was left with a scaled-down squad to work with, so took the opportunity to hand Drummy the reins, as well as inviting the Under-21 squad to train with their senior colleagues.

Drummy was delighted with the faith shown in him by Mourinho, and went away having learnt a great deal from working alongside the Portuguese and observing his methods.

'When Jose and Rui (Faria) come over to the academy and mention about taking the sessions, it lifts you to the next level,' he tells the official Chelsea website. 'It sends you away excited and thinking about how you're going to plan it, working with the likes of (Fernando) Torres, JT (John Terry), (Demba) Ba and (Juan) Mata.

'I planned the sessions, the content of the sessions and the duration of the sessions for three days, and then we did one of Rui and Jose's on the Friday, with a tactical element added in building towards a game, which was really interesting and informative.

'The feedback was nice and then I watched one of their sessions, to see how they worked tactically, which was a learning curve for me. It's a different style of coaching and it's another thing I can add to my development.

'I can watch one of the world's best coaches, and be fortunate enough to be in it and live it; to take the session, watch the session and be right in there, so it was a great experience for me.'

Of course, any opportunity the younger players are given to train with the first team is one that should be valued and taken advantage of, particularly with Mourinho and his coaching staff watching on.

This time, there was the added incentive of testing themselves against players who possess a wealth of experience at the highest level which, as Drummy explains, presents its own challenges.

'The boys were excited because it gives them a chance to see the level they're aspiring to, and also to have Jose and his staff watching,' he says.

'The first team players that remain here during the international break need to be stimulated and they were fantastic with the boys, talking to them and passing on information.

'They have to get into the session, so when you're marking Torres or shutting down Mata it's tough. If you don't keep the ball, and then the first team turn up the gas, you don't get the ball back and you get tired, so my lads will have learnt a lot of important lessons. They could see how the first team players treated every session, with respect and professionalism.

'We did a classroom session afterwards with the boys focusing on the first team, the high levels required, how quick it is, the importance of not giving the ball away and how they should reflect on the whole situation, so we really made it a worthwhile week. They don't come around very often so it's been a fantastic experience for my staff and the players.'

Drummy is hopeful similar opportunities will come along once again in the future, and believes such situations can only serve as a positive inspiration to his players as they look to progress within the game.

'It was fantastic for them and there will be different levels of enjoyment,' he explains. 'There will have been a bit of nervousness, but they were very grateful for the opportunity to have the first team manager watching them, not just for one day, but for five or six.'

Chelsea Under-21s take on Norwich City this Friday (13 September) at the Electrical Services Stadium in Aldershot, kick-off 7.05pm, with tickets available on arrival priced £3 for adults and £1 for juniors and seniors.

The game will also be broadcast live on Chelsea TV with coverage starting at 7pm.