In Depth

Why Mourinho and Hodgson must set young talents free

Both managers have plenty of promising players at their disposal, it is time they took advantage of them

As Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reflects on his side's disastrous start to the season, and runs the rule over those players who are not away on international duty, he may spot an opportunity - the chance to begin building a new side around the club's array of young talents.

At least that is the suggestion of Sam Wallace of the Daily Telegraph.

England boss Roy Hodgson is being urged to have a similar epiphany as he prepares his squad for Friday night's somewhat irrelevant friendly against Spain, by Oliver Kay of The Times.

First, to Stamford Bridge, where hopes of a league title are long gone. "If ever a club could afford a period of rebuilding, it is the Chelsea of 2015," argues Wallace of the Telegraph. And where better to start than with the current crop of youngsters.

Chelsea's academy has won three of the last four FA Youth Cups, as well as last year's Under-19s Uefa Youth League he points out. Yet "the wait goes on for a regular first-team footballer".

Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored a wonder goal for Chelsea Under-21s against Liverpool last week and then expressed frustration at his lack of first team opportunities, while another promising youngster, Charly Musonda, is also said to be frustrated, which has alerted several of Chelsea's Premier League rivals.

Meanwhile the club has 33 players, most of whom are at the start of their careers, farmed out on loan around Europe. Yet back at the Bridge there are players like Radamel Falcao and 26-year-old defender Papy Djilobodji, signed this summer and so far entrusted with a single minute of action, blocking the path of young talents.

Wallace acknowledges that many of those on loan are gaining first team experience, which after all is the aim of the exercise. But perhaps they are ready for the Blues first team. Nathan Ake, for example, is a regular in a Watford team five places above Chelsea.

"There is a moment in the life of every club when they have to acknowledge it is time to do something differently. If Chelsea are looking to add new players in January then instead of the mediocrities available in the mid-season transfer window, they should look at bringing home some of the academy boys who know what it is to play for the club," says Wallace.

The youngsters Roy Hodgson has at his disposal are somewhat more battle-hardened than those Chelsea boast, at least for now. But Oliver Kay of the Times insists that John Stones, Ross Barkley and Harry Kane should be given the chance to test themselves against the very best as England play Spain and France.

Over the next few days England have the chance to "find out whether Stones is ready to supplant Gary Cahill at centre back; whether Barkley is ready to be trusted when it matters; whether Kane can make a persuasive case to be a regular starter, be it in place of Wayne Rooney or alongside him".

None of the trio play in the Champions League so now is the time to see if they are up to the task. "The worst that can happen would be to pitch up in France next summer feeling that a lack of experience means making compromises in team selection. Gaining experience now, whether in victory or defeat, would seem the right way to go."

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