International action resumes not just at senior level this week but throughout the junior age groups, with 19 Chelsea youngsters away with their countries over the coming days.
Among them is Conor Gallagher, the midfielder who has enjoyed an excellent start to the season in his maiden loan spell at Charlton Athletic in the Championship. He joins fellow Blue Tariq Lamptey in Keith Downing’s England Under-20 squad.
The young Lions host the Netherlands in Shrewsbury on Thursday before travelling to take on Switzerland on Monday. With the lure of Gareth Southgate’s squad just two rungs of the ladder away, there is plenty of motivation for those in the Under-20 group and Gallagher believes sights should be set on reaching the very top.
Speaking to the FA in the build-up to tonight’s game, he said: ‘The manager always says that the aim for us should be to get into the Under-21s squad and that’s the main thing, finding that pathway.
‘Obviously, the seniors is the dream but first it’s just about trying to get into the Under-21s. There’s no reason why we can’t. If we’re playing regularly for our clubs and playing well with England, then we’re going to get picked. Everyone knows it’s possible and there’s a pathway for us.’
The 19-year-old has played the first six senior games of his career at the start of this season, impressing with three goals and a string of influential displays for the Addicks in midfield. His form has helped propel Lee Bowyer’s side towards the top of the Championship table and he reflects fondly on rising to new challenges so far.
‘I couldn’t have asked for a better start at Charlton,’ he continued. ‘We’ve played six games, we haven’t lost yet, we’re second in the league and I’ve scored a few goals and assisted a couple. I think we were probably favourites to come last so to start the way we have is great and I’m just hoping we can carry on.
‘At Chelsea, it’s a bit of a bubble really because everything’s made easy, especially for me as I only live about 10 minutes from the training ground. It’s been good for me to go out and get some experience in men’s football in the Championship.
‘The main thing is just to play as many matches as possible and I’m looking to keep doing that with England this week.’
Gallagher has also been watching with great interest as his fellow Chelsea Academy graduates make a positive impact at Stamford Bridge under new boss Frank Lampard.
‘When Mason [Mount] and Tammy [Abraham] scored the other week, I know it gave everyone a boost and it just shows that if you play youngsters, they can do well,' he added.
‘They are both obviously great players and they’re proving themselves in the first team but there’s some great players who are ready to prove themselves as well. It makes them work even harder to impress the manager and his coaches.’