UYL preview: Top spot in sight

With qualification from the group stage secured, our Under-19s will guarantee their place in the UEFA Youth League last-16 if they avoid defeat by three or more goals against Atletico Madrid this afternoon at Cobham. The game is live on BT Sport 3, kick-off 3pm UK time.

Only the group winners advance directly to the round-of-16, with the runners-up pitted against a side from the domestic champions path in a one-legged away play-off. However, Joe Edwards’s side know they are within touching distance of the knockout round and hope to complete the group stage by returning to winning ways at home, where they were beaten by Roma last time out.

Under-19 team captain Luke McCormick (pictured top) will be hopeful of returning to the side following an injury absence and the midfielder believes they approach the contest with the same application and motivation as any other outing.

‘I don’t think we ever go into a game to draw,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. ‘We always want to win so we’ll be looking to put in a good performance and get the three points. Our approach will be the same as it has been for all the other games. We have a confidence in our ability and our work-rate to get after the ball and to make sure we give them a good game.

‘In the away game, I thought they moved the ball quite well across the back so we know we’ll have to work hard again across the pitch but they can also get a bit sloppy so they're vulnerable in that sense. We have pacey players in our team who can hurt them through the middle, which is what we’ll be looking to do.’

UYL Group C - As it stands...

Pos P W D L F A GD Pts

1

Chelsea

5

4

0

1

13

5

+8

12

2

Atletico

5

3

0

2

10

7

+3

9

3

Roma

5

2

0

3

8

6

+2

6

4

Qarabag

5

1

0

4

3

16

-13

3

The 18-year-old signed a new contract last month but has been hit with a number of small knocks that have disrupted his momentum and regular spot in the midfield engine room.

‘I came back against Roma but picked up an ankle problem after coming off the bench and then I got a knee injury in the lead-up to the Qarabag game,’ he continues. ‘It’s been frustrating to keep getting these little niggles but obviously it’s been great to see the boys do so well in winning both games and hopefully I can come back to play my part.’

Now ineligible for the Under-18s, McCormick and the rest of his year group have stepped up to work full-time with Edwards in the development squad programme. The teenager admits he has had to get used to the additional demands but sees the progression as an important stepping stone towards first team football.

‘I’ve had to adapt to the increased load – there’s a lot of games and training has gone up a notch as well but it’s a brilliant programme for our development,’ McCormick adds. ‘We need to be able to play two or three games a week on a consistent basis because that’s what you’re looking to do in the senior game so it’s good exposure to that in all these different competitions.

‘We can’t wait for the knockout round but we need to firstly focus on Atletico and not look too far ahead. If we can get this last job done, we can then look forward to a busy period after the Christmas break.’

Kick-off at is at 3pm UK time. We regret spectators are not admitted to games at Cobham but the game will be screened live on BT Sport 3 and there will be updates throughout on our official Twitter @chelseafc. Chelsea TV will show a full 90-minute re-run tomorrow morning from 9am.

 

-Supporters wishing to attend our development squad’s next outing in the Checkatrade Trophy last-32 away at MK Dons tomorrow (Wednesday) can purchase tickets on the door at the away ticket office priced at £5 for adults/seniors and £1 for under-18s.