While Chelsea’s injury issues came amid a brutal winter schedule and a downturn in form the Blues, it did provide an opportunity.
With so many players missing, as is the case during international breaks, Chelsea’s development squad were called upon to enhance the numbers Thomas Tuchel had at his disposal.
Harvey Vale, Xavier Simons and Jude Soonsup-Bell were called upon to start against Brentford in the Carabao Cup and performed admirably, while the cohort was even bigger on Cobham’s training pitches.
The youngster perhaps most impressive to supporters was 17-year-old Lewis Hall, who is preparing to face Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup this weekend.
Hall put in a man of the match performance in the FA Cup against Chesterfield, earning an assist while never looking out of place on the left of Tuchel’s back three.
Given how natural he looked in the position, and the fact he has played as a left wing-back so often for the Under-23 side, it perhaps will come as a surprise to many that Hall is a central midfielder by trade. The signing of Dylan Williams may afford Hall more opportunities in his natural position.
It’s clear the academy star is ambitious, however, as he moulds his game on the very best.
He told the official Chelsea website: “I have two that I like to base my game around and that’s Kevin De Bruyne and Frank Lampard. Both of them are very good technically but I also like how they both contribute to the team with goals and assists and how they look so comfortable on the ball.”
Hall and his teammates have spent a lot of time around the Blues squad over the last month or so, and while he is not been overawed, it is Chelsea midfielders that have impressed him most.
He said: “That’s a tough one! We have so many good players in the squad but if I had to choose I’d go for either Mateo Kovacic or Jorginho.
“The best goal I’ve seen live is probably Kovacic’s volley against Liverpool a few weeks back. What a hit that was!”
He’s not the only academy star to have sang the praises of the Croatian, who is enjoying his best season in a Chelsea shirt. Charlie Webster was very appreciative of Kovacic’s efforts during his time with the first team.
He said: “Mateo Kovacic has also been a major help. He is one of the best central midfielders in the world and I have learnt a lot from him. Taking this experience back to the squad will hopefully ensure that my game improves; ultimately affecting the team in a positive way.”
Source by Football London