Loftus-Cheek handed Chelsea chance

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Published: Tuesday 9th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea must produce homegrown players, otherwise they may as well shut their £8million-a-year academy and spend the money on transfers.

Defender John Terry, the 34-year-old captain, was the last Chelsea-nurtured prospect to make a sustained impact on the first team.

With Terry, Eden Hazard and Willian rested for Wednesday night’s Champions League Group G clash with Sporting Lisbon, Mourinho has called up 18-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been with Chelsea since the age of eight.

In July, ahead of the second season of his second spell at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho insisted it would be his fault if academy prospects Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown and Dominic Solanke were not soon first-team stars.

Loftus-Cheek is another hot prospect who has been fast-tracked to the first team for a match Chelsea do not need to win.

“You need to prove the academy works well and is worth it,” Mourinho said.

“If the kids are not good enough or the work is not good enough – and year after year you don’t bring kids to the first team – it’s better to close the door and use the money that you spend on the academy to buy players.”

Mourinho 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.

“The people in the academy feel they are working for something, which is why tomorrow is not Ruben’s day but ‘academy day’.

“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.”

Mourinho spent enormous sums on transfers during a hugely successful first spell at the club from June 2004 to September 2007 when upcoming talent was in short supply.

“Every manager in the world wants to bring young people up,” he said. ” (But) it depends on the talent you have. Sometimes you have it. Sometimes you don’t.

“I can, for example, compare my first spell here and now – and now the quality of the young players is better. It’s clearly better. I have conditions to do it.”

Chelsea lost for the first time in 24 games this season at Newcastle last Saturday.

Despite already advancing to the last 16 as group winners and affording key personnel rest, the Blues are determined to respond.

“By the mental point of view the defeat to Newcastle doesn’t have an effect on us,” Mourinho said.

“We have nothing to change and be worried with, but when you lose a game, the next game you want to win.”

The match means more for Sporting, who are in a battle with Roberto Di Matteo’s Schalke to advance as group runners-up. Schalke must win at Maribor to have any hope of progressing.

The Portuguese said: “I’m happy if Sporting go to the second round with seven points because my desire is to always win. I want to beat Sporting and then Schalke not to win against Maribor.”

Mourinho spotted an opportunity to give Terry, Hazard and Willian a rest and is likely to balance rotating his options with keeping his side in tune for the busy festive programme.

Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic had their rest when serving suspensions, while Cesc Fabregas is banned for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Hull for accumulating five yellow cards.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech could make a third start in the competition after being displaced by Thibaut Courtois as first choice.

“Terry, Willian and Hazard are on holidays,” Mourinho said.

“I would like to give the whole squad the time off but these three play all the time and I have good solutions for these positions.

“We have so many matches to play in December and we are one of the few teams in the Premier League that also plays the Capital One Cup in this moment.

“Everybody has periods to rest we don’t have. This game gives me the chance to rest these three players.

Mourinho said after the loss at St James’ Park that Costa needed to improve his match fitness to continue to score prolifically after his strong start at Chelsea.

“Diego starts,” Mourinho said.

Published: Tuesday 9th December 2014 by The News Editor

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