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Stepping forward

Chelsea started the 4-0 win over Aston Villa with four players aged 21 or under on the pitch and Guus Hiddink was pleased with what he saw from our young talents.

Matt Miazga, Baba Rahman, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (pictured above) and Kenedy were named in a youthful looking starting 11 by the Dutchman, who also brought Jake Clarke-Salter off the bench late on to give the centre-back his first-team debut, having impressed for our Academy sides this season.

Miazga was also a debutant against the Villans, starting at the heart of the defence alongside Branislav Ivanovic in the absence of both Gary Cahill and John Terry, and Hiddink believes the young American equipped himself well.

'He had a rather comfortable game, although it's not easy to play [Rudy] Gestede, but I think he showed he does have the potential,' said Hiddink.

'To be honest, this was not the toughest game; when the really good war is going you have to consider how you cope with that, but it's a good first step for him.

'He's coming from a league where it's a bit naïve and he has to get used to referees in this country giving a little bit more freedom to the attackers, which I like.

'He has to get used to a little bit of a shuffle, a little bit of a push, where in other leagues the referee might be giving free-kicks. I accept that and like it very much but that's a bit of naivety he has to leave as soon as possible. But I didn't see much of that.

'Miazga's young, although he looks a little bit older, and the club has to decide what to do for next year, but I don't mind bringing in youngsters.

'Loftus-Cheek was brought in earlier this season and also Clarke-Salter played the last 15 minutes. Kenedy had played too. It's good to see these youngsters especially in this late part of the league.'

For Loftus-Cheek it was the first time he has completed 90 minutes in a Premier League fixture, having previously only played the full game in the FA Cup win over MK Dons in January, and Hiddink highlighted the importance of this fact.

'It's important for him to get the substance of games,' he said. 'He was used to being substituted after one hour but on purpose we let him go and suffer a bit.

'He had the experience of 90 minutes, although it's not the highest tempo game, but they have to experience it.

'He had a little bit of cramp at the end and I said, “Come on, that's good for you!” They have to suffer a bit, that's good.'

Hiddink intends to continue giving youth a chance in the remaining weeks of the season.

'It's good for English football having these guys,' he said. 'Other clubs have them too, it's good to see.

'When you have an Academy like Chelsea has for a long time, it's not easy but you must give the players the chance to step up. That's what we are doing in the second part of the season.'


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