The Chelsea development squad return to action in Premier League 2 this evening (Monday), with Liverpool the visitors to Aldershot in a game live on Chelsea TV.
Adi Viveash’s side picked up an opening weekend point on their travels at Sunderland, coming from behind to draw 1-1. Defender Trevoh Chalobah started at the heart of defence and was praised by his manager for a resilient display.
The 17-year-old’s presence in the starting line-up is indicative of a generally younger group for Viveash to work with this year, despite the age eligibility of the rebranded league increasing to Under-23. Six of the starters in the north-east remain eligible to represent our youth team this season.
‘As a team we’re a bit younger than most but I think that can only help us develop better as young players,’ Chalobah told the official Chelsea website as we look ahead to the first home game of the campaign.
‘It’s a real development year, getting the feel of the new Under-23 league and playing against bigger, older players, but it can only help us in the long-term. It’s important we get ready for what’s to come in the future.’
The England Under-17 captain has spent pre-season working full-time with the development squad and he believes a tough summer’s work will stand them in good stead for the challenges that lie ahead in the coming months.
‘It’s been really good to step up and train with the development squad every day. The sessions are a lot harder, more physical and there's more off-the-ball work too. Pre-season has really helped me to get used to this level. I feel fitter and capable to run more and for a longer period of time.
‘We travelled more compared to last summer and playing against older opponents in ‘B’ team games has given us a taste of what the league will be like this year. The game is more physical at this level so I feel the work we’ve done so far will really help us to adapt to playing against bigger, older players.’
The youngsters produced a positive display at Sunderland last weekend, going close to snatching a late winner in the final stages as they grew stronger throughout the 90 minutes.
‘I made my Under-21s debut there last season and it was a tough experience but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot since then. Having played alongside someone like Jake Clarke-Salter last year has definitely helped me improve so I felt more comfortable and confident.
‘I was pleased with our performance both as a team and for me personally. We did well and took a lot of what we worked on in pre-season into the game. Going away to Sunderland is always a tough challenge so we had to adapt but it was good to get a point away from home.’
Our Under-21s beat Liverpool both home and away last term and will be eager to pick up their first three points of the new season in front of the Chelsea TV cameras.
‘It will be a much different game to last week,’ Chalobah continued. ‘Liverpool are similar in style to us, a ball-playing team with quite a few good individual players. It will be an even contest but we’re really looking forward to it.’
-Tickets for the game can be bought on the door at Aldershot priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.