Posted on: Sun 08 Jul 2012

The simple fact that Sam Hutchinson ended the season as a Chelsea first team player will have been enough to put a smile on the young defender's face given a terrible run of luck with injuries throughout his career.

Having come out of retirement, and with a specially formulated development programme in place in order to aid his progression, the 2011/12 season was always going to be one in which Hutchinson would need to be steady in his approach.

Fortunately, aside from the odd minor niggle, he came through it unscathed and will be looking forward to next season immensely.

When he wasn't involved with the first team squad, Hutchinson played for and captained the reserves, making 10 appearances at that level over the course of the campaign.

To the delight of the player, he was named as a substitute for the first team game against Aston Villa in December, although he didn't come on.

He did, however, end the season on a positive note, coming on as a late sub in the 6-1 victory against Queens Park Rangers in April, and then starting against Blackburn Rovers on the final day of the season, putting in a solid and committed display.

Appearances: 1+1
Minutes on pitch: 83

Sam Hutchinson in action v Blackburn

Ryan Bertrand began the 2011/12 campaign as a first team squad member on the periphery, and ended it as a Champions League winner, showing enough promise along the way to suggest that he could be a Stamford Bridge regular for years to come.

The season got off to a positive start for the youngster when he was handed a new four-year contract last July, but with Ashley Cole ahead of him in the pecking order, Bertrand didn't need telling how difficult it would be for him to break into the side.

However, Andre Villas-Boas saw the Carling Cup as the perfect competition to blood Bertrand, who had made his full debut the previous season, and he featured in all three games of our run, against Fulham, Everton and Liverpool.

Appearances, though, weren't just restricted to the Carling Cup. He came on as a late substitute in the FA Cup third round win against Portsmouth, before starting both fifth round games against Birmingham and the quarter-final tie against Leicester.

Successive league starts against Wigan Athletic and Fulham followed shortly after, a clear sign that Roberto Di Matteo had been impressed by Bertrand's composure and maturity, and with the games piling up towards the end of the season and the need for squad rotation paramount, he was given the nod to start the matches against Arsenal, Newcastle, Liverpool and Blackburn, moving during the last of those into a more advanced position, the significance of which not fully appreciated at the time.

While Bertrand had undoubtedly impressed when given the opportunity, few people, if any, expected him to play a part in the Champions League Final, but with Florent Malouda suffering a tight hamstring a week before and two midfielders missing through suspension, Di Matteo chose to play him wide on the left in front of Ashley Cole.

With the Blues under pressure for much of the game, the duo attempted to repel the combined threat of Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm, before being withdrawn midway through the second half with a calf problem.

His contribution, however, had been one of significance, and he will look forward to next season believing he has a real opportunity to lay down a marker long-term.

Appearances: 13+2
Assists: 1
Minutes on pitch: 1,299