Our development squad open this weekend’s fixtures this evening against the current PL2 title holders Manchester City at Kingsmeadow.
Our development squad will be looking to bounce back from two defeats to London rivals Fulham and Arsenal as they entertain Man City. Tickets are available here and the game will be shown live on the official Chelsea website and the 5th Stand, with kick-off at 7pm.
Summer signings Omari Hutchinson and Zak Sturge, who both featured last time out against Arsenal, have spoken highly of their new team-mates. Both want to show their abilities against the Citizens.
Settling down and getting to work
Hutchinson has had the benefit of being involved with the team throughout pre-season, however Sturge played his first minutes of the season last week Saturday against Arsenal. Both spoke on how they are adapting to life at Cobham.
Zak Sturge: ‘I am settling in well, finding my feet and enjoying the whole process. I really cannot complain. Obviously, I have known some of the boys already from England camps but to be playing for one of the best clubs in the world on a weekly basis, you cannot beat this feeling.’
He went on to add that ‘one thing that stands out the most to me is the intensity levels in training. I loved my time at Brighton, and they taught me so much in the programme over there, but I feel this is the next step in my career and Chelsea gives me the platform to play with and against the very best.’
Omari Hutchinson: ‘I have settled in quickly, probably because I was able to have a pre-season with the boys. It has been so easy to communicate with my new team-mates as well as the coaching staff. I think the fact that they want you to be expressive and they want you to say how you are feeling, goes a long way in helping me and Zak feel welcome.
‘I am still adapting but it has been a good start for me.’
Manager’s influence and advice
Mark Robinson and his coaching team have spent some time now with both players. Hutchinson has played and started all three PL2 games so far, and Sturge debuted in the away defeat at Arsenal.
Both players spoke highly of the development squad head coach and how he has given them advice as well as instructions on how he wants them to play.
Zak: ‘The first thing he said to me is that he wants me to settle in well and gel with my new team-mates. He wants me to build the chemistry off the pitch as that will greatly help me and the team when we are on it together.
‘I am focused on improving my performances on a game-by-game basis and I think the best way to do that as the gaffer has said is to continue to build that chemistry with the team.’
Omari: ‘I really like what he said to me, he knows that as a player I set high standards for myself, and I want to be the best that I can possibly be when it comes to scoring goals and getting assists.
‘He told me that if I do not force anything and I do the basics right, then they will slowly begin to come with ease. He is a great coach and a great guy off the pitch, I can talk to him about anything.’
Preparation for City and superstitions
Manchester City in their first three PL2 games have only conceded one goal and are still unbeaten so they will be tough opposition for our young Blues. Nevertheless, both Hutchinson and Sturge are keen to impress and get our development squad back to winning ways.
Zak: ‘I am looking forward to playing against City, they will be tough opponents but I believe if we play our game we can win.’
When quizzed on his preparation for this game he spoke on his routine remaining the same for every game.
‘In the morning when I wake up, I have to have porridge and then I am listening to afrobeats whether it be Wizkid or Burna Boy, I have to listen to the music I know will keep me cool and calm as I prepare for the game ahead. My left foot also has to come on the pitch first.’
Hutchinson on the other hand has a different way of preparing which helps him know how good he will be on the day.
Omari: ‘For me fitting in a quick Call of Duty session on my PlayStation 5 helps me remain calm. It allows me to not overthink on the game ahead as I always feel pressure to score for my team or get assists for my team-mates.’
In other Academy news, Bryan Fiabema has been recalled early from his loan at Rosenborg BK.
The 19-year-old Norwegian striker joined the Rosenborg earlier this year and having played 11 games he scored one goal in Norway’s top division.