Chelsea head coach Graham Potter could hand three starlets their senior debuts and another his second bow in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round clash against Manchester City. Four U21 players are potentially in line to travel with the Blues when they head to the Etihad Stadium to face the Premier League champions.
Chelsea U21s beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on Monday, moving just three points behind Premier League 2 leaders Arsenal. However, four names were notably absent from Mark Robinson’s squad, prompting speculation that they could be with Potter’s first team ahead of the Man City trip.
Bashir Humphreys (centre-back), Lewis Hall (left-back), Mason Burstow (striker) and Omari Hutchinson (winger), usually U21 regulars, all didn’t feature against Tottenham. Hall made his Chelsea debut against Chesterfield in last season’s FA Cup and was on the bench in Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal. Hutchinson, Humphreys and Burstow are yet to debut, but the former was among the substitutes at Brighton and Hove Albion.
They could go one better on Wednesday, despite the magnitude of the opponent, if Potter looks to the club’s academy. Given he will be eager to win his first trophy in English football quickly at Stamford Bridge, it’s unlikely any of the quartet will start, but they could be in line for some minutes.
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Humphreys has captained Chelsea U21s and could be called upon to help Potter rotate his centre-backs, with Thiago Silva looking in need of a rest in recent weeks. Burstow has scored four goals in 14 youth games this season after joining from Charlton Athletic earlier this year.
Potter was questioned after snubbing Chelsea’s youth system in last week’s Champions League dead rubber against Dinamo Zagreb. However, the Blues boss explained his decision was out of respect for the competition and insisted he had been impressed by many young players since replacing Thomas Tuchel.
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He said: “As I said before, I don’t think it’s a time to be using young players just for the sake of it. I think we have to be competitive and respectful of the competition. There are still teams looking for points for their own qualification. So from our perspective, we have to try and pick a team we think can win the game.
“We’ve used a lot of young players. As you said, a lot of them have been impressive. I like the character, I like the personality, and it’s been an important part of how we’ve started here at Chelsea to get closer to the academy guys and to get to know them.”
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