Ahead of Chelsea Under-18s’ trip to Reading, which will be shown live on the Official Chelsea App, head coach Hassan Sulaiman explains how his players’ mentality will serve them well and why he joined our England Under-17 internationals at the recent World Cup.

With the international break well and truly over, it is back to business as usual in the Under-18 Premier League this weekend, with the Blues travelling to Reading for a midday kick-off on Saturday 2 December.

You can watch the game live exclusively on the Official Chelsea App, complete with enhanced stats and event tracking from MVX, built with Infinite Athlete.

The game will be the Chelsea Under-18s’ first since facing Tottenham on 28 October, but they have been building form ahead of the return thanks to back-to-back 3-1 victories, in a friendly against Cardiff City and last week’s Premier League Cup win over Blackburn Rovers, which secured our progress into the knockout stages.

Those left Sulaiman feeling optimistic ahead of the return of league football, as he was pleased with both the results and the manner of the victories.

‘The friendly against Cardiff was good,' he says. 'We needed a game before the next competitive match – and we won.

'I felt Blackburn was a must-win game for us. We had won our previous two matches and needed to draw at a minimum to make that count and ensure we qualified.

‘So dealing with pressure, the boys showed tremendous maturity. We played well, defended well, did the things we’ve been working on. We’ve been big on our style of play this season, trying to dominate possession, making sure we’re fast in attack, and being defensively compact. We epitomised those things in this game.

‘The only disappointment was we conceded a goal at the end. We’ve been working a lot on defending so to be 3-0 up and concede, even though we won and it was a dominant performance, the boys were a little disappointed.’

That is something the team will want to correct against Reading tomorrow, which provides an opportunity to reapply pressure on the teams above us in the table.

‘We’ve got an ambitious group of boys who want to not only perform well, they also have ambitions to go as far in all the competitions as possible,' explains Sulaiman. 'They want to win every competition, win the Reading game, and d if we can do that by keeping a clean sheet then even better.

‘We are two games behind other sides in the league, but we’re very confident in the group we have. They are a good, talented group, and are confident they’ll win those two games in hand, climb up the table, and keep the pressure on.

‘It’s a very competitive year group across the country. The likes of Tottenham, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, they’re all very good teams. We want to make sure we’re right behind them, breathing down their necks.’

Sulaiman will be back in charge for the trip to Reading, having taken a back seat against Blackburn; his assistants, Andy Ross and Jimmy Smith, led the team as they had taken training during the build-up.

That was because Sulaiman – and head of Academy player care, Carys Dalton – had travelled to Indonesia to support the six Chelsea players representing England at the Under-17 World Cup.

'Because it was on the other side of the world, it was nice for them to have a Chelsea presence,' says Sulaiman. 'Not only that but we thought to have their coach go out to watch would be quite powerful.

‘Jim [Fraser, head of youth development and recruitment] has always encouraged coaches to support the players in whichever way we can when they’re travelling. So going out to watch was a great experience for myself, but also it was great to have that presence.

‘We talk about holistic development all the time. We talk about developing the person as well as the player. It wasn't about technical or tactical support, it was about the emotional and physical support. Showing we care. That's important for our players.

‘We went for dinner with their parents a couple of times; it was nice to show them we care too.

'I think they were pleased with the level of support we provided, not only with our presence but with good conversation and getting to know each other outside of the club environment. That was really important.’

However, just as important in the coach’s eyes is the experience, on and off the pitch, those players bring back to Chelsea from the World Cup.

'They bring those experiences back to the group, share them with the other players. Also, when we play in national cup competitions, that experience on the world stage is vital.

'They can share that with the other players and it just adds more value to them, both as players and people.’

Hopefully, all that experience, confidence and ambition will be on display as our Under-18s return to league action at Reading tomorrow.

How to watch live

The match will be available to watch live exclusively on the Official Chelsea App for £1.99, complete with enhanced stats and event tracking from MVX, built with Infinite Athlete.