Trevoh Chalobah has been a regular in Ipswich’s midfield this season and we caught up with the 19-year-old to hear about what areas of his game have improved in the Championship, what position he sees himself playing in the future, and what his targets for the remainder of the campaign.
Chalobah joined Chelsea as an Under-9, following in his big brother Nathaniel’s footsteps, and featured in triumphant FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League teams, as well as being named on the bench for the senior side on occasions last season, including for the FA Cup final win over Manchester United.
He embarked on his first loan away from the Bridge in the summer and has impressed for an Ipswich team struggling at the foot of the Championship. It hasn’t been an easy season for the Tractor Boys but as Chalobah explains, he has reaped the rewards of the move…
First of all Trevoh, how have you found it adapting to life in the Championship?
It hasn’t been the same as I expected. A lot of people know the Championship is a physical, tough league, but playing in it is different. Obviously it is physical, and I think I have dealt with that, but there’s the tactical side as well.
The time you get in Academy football is nothing like in the Championship. You have players straight on you when you get the ball. That is where awareness is so important and I have improved in that area as time has gone on.
I think my technical ability has improved a lot as well. I like getting on the ball. At Chelsea I would work on my technical side a lot. Here with the teams you come up against are often direct, so you need long-range passing.
Tore Andre Flo, one of the loan player technical coaches at Chelsea, assesses Trevoh Chalobah's recent development in the video below....
You have already played 35 games this season…
It’s a tough league, dealing with the physicality when you play Saturday then Tuesday is not easy, but I have done my recovery right to make sure I am ready for the next game. That’s important in this league because the games come thick and fast.
At Chelsea we more often than not saw you at centre-back, but you’ve been playing in central midfield for Ipswich. What’s that been like?
Yeah, I have been playing sometimes as the holding midfielder, and sometimes in more of an advanced role.
The same things apply to playing centre-back: being good on the ball, doing your defensive duties. I played a few times in midfield at Chelsea but it’s not the same as in this league.
When I have been playing in a higher role I’ve been learning to pass forward, getting the ball, turning, slipping someone in. As a midfielder that’s what you want, someone who can play forward and start attacks.
Also I’m a big lad who needs to impose myself on the game more, and I’ve been working on that in training and doing a lot of power stuff as well. I think the second half of the season I have been driving forward more.
Do you see yourself more as a midfielder or a centre-back now?
Playing in midfield now I would almost say I am certain to establish myself in that role. I can play centre-back as well if needed, but definitely midfield at the moment.
It’s been a tough season for Ipswich. What have you learned about yourself in testing circumstances?
At Chelsea you are used to winning every game pretty much. That’s been different here, but it’s helped me. In this league you are fighting for something every week, and any slip-ups will be punished. That’s how it has been for us this season, but in a way it has helped me mature.
It has been a learning curve and people might think it hasn’t been a good loan for me because we are down there, but for me it has been successful. It will help me a lot in the future whatever happens.
You’ve played under two Pauls, Hurst and Lambert, this season. What have they taught you?
I have learned a lot from both of them. Paul Hurst had a philosophy with the way he wanted us to play. He believed in me, he was always telling me to get on the ball and be comfortable on the ball.
Paul Lambert has been in the game for a long time and he knows what is needed. He’s been good to me as well, he has helped me improve my attacking game. He is always talking to me in training and having had two different managers has helped me massively this year.
And what about the senior pros in the dressing room?
There are some guys who have played over 400 or 500 games in their career. They’ve helped me a lot. I’m learning from them every day in training as well. Communication is important and it was something I needed to improve. From when I was at Chelsea to being here I feel more confident speaking to the senior players or whoever.
Let’s pick out an individual highlight from your season, your winning goal at Swansea in October…
I was buzzing. That was our first win of the season, and me getting the win for the team was unbelievable. One thing I wanted to do when I first came to Ipswich was to try and get some goals. I’ve got two, I would like more, and it’s something I am working on. But that was a very exciting moment.
Your other goal was against Aston Villa at Portman Road, and the first thing you did was run to get the ball back even though you were down to 10 men, it was an equaliser and there were 50 minutes left!
The captain asked me what I was doing! We were 1-0 down, a man down, I got the goal, and he told me to relax, but I was so excited I wanted to get going again! We were playing against a very good team.
You’ve also played against some of our other players on loan in the Championship. How have you found that?
It’s nothing different from when I trained with them at Chelsea really. You don’t really think about it during the game but afterwards it’s good to speak to them.
There are two months of the season to go. What are you trying to achieve in that time?
Coming to Ipswich, I didn’t expect to play as many games as I have done. That’s been a big achievement for me. My aim is to keep playing every week, getting more minutes under my belt, and hopefully get that England Under-21s call-up. That’s been my aim international wise. Hopefully I have done enough.