Ten new scholars have joined pre-season training with our Under-18s this week as preparations for the new season begin in earnest.
Jody Morris takes the reins from Joe Edwards this term and his group is boosted by nine of last season’s Under-16s, who between them made 55 appearances in 2015/16 and have all been at the club since the Under-9 age group. There is also a new signing as Dutch midfielder Juan Castillo joins from Ajax.
With the new first-years having signed their scholarship deals today (Thursday), assistant head of youth development Jim Fraser gives the official Chelsea website the lowdown on the new intake.
'Jamie is a talented goalkeeper from Eastleigh who has been at the club since he was an Under-8 in our development centre programme. He is a bright boy off the pitch and is a technically sound, good shot-stopper. He was selected for the England Under-17s last season as well as making his youth team debut.'
'Conor is a local boy who has played mostly wide during his Under-16 season and as a central midfield player in his earlier schoolboy years. He has a couple of brothers who have been scholars at other clubs so comes from a football family who are big Chelsea supporters. A development centre graduate, he has been training with us since the age of six and is a team player with a great attitude.'
'Marc has been with us since the Under-8 age group and has played most of his football at schoolboy level at right-back or centre-half. A right-footed player, he has represented England at Under-16 level and captained the side to victory at the Nike International Tournament in Florida last December. A committed defender with a good attitude, he has represented the youth team as both an Under-15 and Under-16 schoolboy.'
'George has been training with us from the start of his Under-8 year and is the youngest in the group. A left-footed attacking player, he has played mostly in midfield or in the number 10 position progressing through the age groups. In the last couple of years he has featured on the left-wing, right-wing as well as a loose striker. The younger brother of Josh, he has also played for England Under-16s.'
'Reece has been training with us since the age of six after training at our Cobham development centre. He started out as more of a striker before moving back into midfield and played most of last season at right-back or in midfield. A versatile, right-footed player, he made his youth team debut last term.'
'A left-sided player, Zech has mainly played at centre-half or left-back in his schoolboy years, though he has also featured at left-wing as part of his development. He signed for us in the Under-9 year and also represented England Under-16s last season.'
'Dujon is a north London boy who came through the development centre programme. He is a defensive player with attacking qualities and has played in a number of positions during his schoolboy years, including right-back, centre-half, central midfield and even as a striker in his younger age groups. As an Under-16, he was an FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League winner, scoring three goals including in the Youth Cup final. He has also represented England at Under-16 and Under-17 level.'
'A striker with a consistent goalscoring record, east Londoner Martell has mostly featured as a front player either out wide or through the middle. Another player from our development centre programme, he also played for England Under-17s last season and made his youth team debut.'
'Tariq is a north London boy who plays either in central midfield, left-wing or, more recently, left-back. A versatile player and a quiet boy off the field, he made six appearances for the Under-18s last season.'
'Juan is an exciting player who we have tracked for some time while he was playing in the Netherlands with Ajax. He played more as a winger in his younger schoolboy days but features mostly now as a central midfield player. He has captained Ajax and the Netherlands, representing his country at Under-16 level. He knows many of his new teammates after coming up against them in international matches and tournaments.'
The youth team play their first pre-season game next Sunday 10 July against Bayern Munich as part of their trip to Germany.