YOUTH SET THEIR EUROPEAN SIGHTS
Chelsea's Under-19s, in line with the first team's Champions League schedule, play their first away game in the new UEFA Youth League competition later today (Tuesday). It is live on Chelsea TV.
Having opened the campaign with a convincing 4-0 win over Basel at Cobham a fortnight ago, manager Dermot Drummy and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been looking ahead to the game against Steaua Bucharest.but as Drummy tells the official Chelsea website, playing away from home presents its own challenges.
'The players have to get over the travelling but we'll do a lot of work with our sports science guys, Matt Birnie and Jack Christopher, over here, making sure the players eat properly and rehydrate,' he says.
'It does have an effect, but that's something they need to get used to and we'll work hard to make sure they're ready for the game, because it will be a tough match.
'You also have different refereeing and the boys will have to show good discipline and rise above any difficult situations.'
Drummy was pleased with the display by his side against Basel in our opening game, but wants the players to capitalise on that early in the group stage with a positive result against the Romanian side.
'That was a good performance, the majority of this side are the Under-21 team and they're really starting to gel,' he explains. 'The 4-0 win against Basel was a great result and we need to make sure we don't lose this game.'
Loftus-Cheek [pictured above], meanwhile, is relishing the opportunity to test himself on the European stage once more having been involved in the NextGen Series last season.
'It certainly presents a different challenge to when we play at home,' he says. 'It's a different country, different culture and it's always difficult when you play away from home. We've got a strong side, though, and we have a lot of belief in ourselves so we're confident we can come out on top if we play to the best of our ability.
'Individually it's a big challenge for us playing in Europe and the opposition are always going to be of a high standard. We have some experience in the side from playing in the NextGen last season, when we got to the final, so that will hopefully help us in this tournament.
'It's great for the players to observe the first team at close quarters and see how they travel. I travelled with them on the post-season trip to the US and that was a brilliant experience for me.'
The midfielder, who scored his first goal of the season a week ago in our Under-21s' 3-2 defeat at Everton, impressed in the 4-0 win against Basel, but he believes there is more to come from our youngsters.
'We played really well in that game and showed what we can do,' he says. 'I still think, as a team, we could have played better, and that's what the manager said as well, but we have a lot of potential in the team and if it all comes together we've got a great chance in the competition.'
The game, which kicks off at 2pm UK time, will be broadcast live on Chelsea TV.
Entry is free for those supporters wishing to attend the match. Kick off in Romania is 4pm local time.
The address is:
Centrul Naţional de Fotbal, Strada Motocului, nr. 3
- The Chelsea Under-21 side are in action on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, kicking off at 11am against Man City. Tickets must be bought by 5pm on Friday.