Big night for young Ruben Loftus -Cheek as Mourinho rests some regulars
Chelsea boss free to experiment for Sporting Lisbon clash
Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea with manager Jose Mourinho at a press conference before the Sporting Lisbon game. orting Clube de Portugal at Cobham Training Centre on December 9, 2014 in London, United Kingdom Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty
Chelsea prepared for the final Champions League group game against Sporting Lisbon without John Terry, Willian and Eden Hazard, but with Jose Mourinho expected to offer the teenage midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek his first taste of senior competitive football.
The England under-19 international, consistently excellent for Chelsea’s youth teams since joining the club at under-eight level, trained with the senior squad at Cobham yesterday morning alongside fellow youngsters Nathan Ake and the third-choice goalkeeper in European competition, Mitchell Beeney.
Loftus-Cheek, a highly rated midfielder who had featured for the senior side in two friendlies on their post-season tour of the United States in May 2013, was a regular in the club’s under-21s last term and captained the team to their FA Youth Cup success.
Neither Dominic Solanke – who made his debut in this competition against Maribor earlier in the section – nor Lewis Baker was involved as Mourinho oversaw training. Of the regular senior squad, Terry, Willian and Hazard all sat out the session with the manager expected to rest them for the fixture given his team have already won Group G.
Cesc Fabregas, who is suspended for Saturday’s visit of Hull City in the Premier League having picked up a fifth booking of term in the weekend loss at Newcastle, was present with Andre Schurrle, Filipe Luis, Ramires and Petr Cech also expected to play.
Mourinho, meanwhile, believes stability is imperative for the teenagers to realise their ambitions at Chelsea.
“It’s only possible if the first-team manager stays for a long time, which in this club in the last 10 years, was not possible,” added Mourinho, who is 18 months into a four-year contract.
“Imagine next week if there’s a different first-team manager with different ideas. Some product, almost an end product, becomes an empty product and you have to start everything again.
“The relationship between the first-team and the academy is changing based on this stability that, at this moment, we are having.
“To be here since he was eight and to have the chance to play for Chelsea’s first team is every kid’s dream. English player, 18, completely made in Chelsea. If he does it, if he succeeds, it’s good.
“It’s a clear message that the first team is sending to them: work, work and the right moment, the right talent always arrives.”
“Every manager in the world wants to bring young people up,” he said. “But it depends on the talent you have.
“I can, for example, compare my first spell here and now – and now the quality of the young players is better. I have conditions to do it.” Guardian Service