In the third and final part of this series, we look at the standout performers in Chelsea’s Under 18 team.
When the last match of the league was played before being postponed, Chelsea were third out of 12 in the Southern Conference.
Chelsea’s leading scorer for this season – Armando Broja – has already been called up to the senior squad. The next top scorer is Joe Haigh.
The attacking midfielder has 6 goals and 3 assists in 10 games. Averaging a score involvement every 68 minutes.
A midfielder capable of consistently beating defenders with both passing and dribbling, Haigh’s skill set has been best applied in the number 10 role, though he has played out wide as well.
Haigh joined Chelsea in 2012 from nearby Ashtead as a U10.
Having just turned 17 in March, Haigh is one of the younger players in the squad. Meaning there is plenty of time to develop and be given more minutes than he has been so far.
Of all the players that have come through the U18 squad this season, Dion Rankine has featured in the most matches.
The winger has made 15 appearances out of a possible 16.
With a return of 3 goals and 2 assists, Rankine’s productivity does not seem that impressive at first. However for much of the season, Rakine has been used as a full back where his pace and work rate were the qualities of note.
Turning 18 in October, Rakine has 1 more season of being eligible for the U18s before having to play in the PL2 or senior teams.
The ability to play forward and back, right and left will be valuable traits for Rankine as he moves beyond the U18s and has to find his way into established squads.
Dion Rankine might have the most appearances, but Sam McClelland has the most minutes. Having played the full 90 in all 14 of his starts.
The Northern Irish defender is very much a modern centre back. He is tall, can defend and is more than comfortable in possession of the ball.
McClelland has played for the U21 Northern Ireland national team and was the captain for the U19 Northern Ireland team.
After turning 18 in January, McClelland may well have played his last match for the U18s – if the season does not resume. Assuming this is the case, McClelland will be in the PL2 squad for next season where he will be able to bulk up strength wise and improve against older, more experienced attackers.
Bryan Fiabema became Chelsea’s first signing after the transfer ban was lifted when he joined from Norwegian club Tromsø in January.
Fiabema made his senior debut for Tromsø in the Eliteserien as a 16 year old last season.
The striker only made 1 appearance for a total of 22 minutes in the U18s and 1 more appearance in the PL2 for 26 minutes before the league was postponed.
Fiabema has represented Norway 3 times at U17 level, scoring a hat-trick against Malta in October, 2019.
That Chelsea were willing to throw Fiabema straight into PL2 is reason enough to be optimistic that he will see more match time across U18, PL2 and possibly the first team when football returns.
Born in Hillingdon, Jake Askew joined Chelsea’s development centre before signing on to play for the U9 squad.
Now 18, goalkeeper Askew has made 12 appearances for the U18s and 4 appearances in the U19 FA Youth Cup.
From his 12 league matches, Askew has 6 clean sheets to his name and he was yet to concede a goal in the FA Youth Cup.
The league-leading PL2 squad’s goalkeepers are all still young enough to remain there for next season, however they do rotate. Meaning Askew is a chance of playing at least a few matches there next season.