Young Blues extend deals
England U-21 international Josh McEachran is hoping for an opportunity to show new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas what he can do in tomorrow's pre-season friendly at Portsmouth. The highly-rated 18-year-old midfielder has just agreed a new long-term deal with the Blues.
Ghana international Michael Essien is facing a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, so McEachran, part of the Blues' FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2010, could stake his claim for a regular first-team spot as the squad get set for a pre-season trip to the Far East.
"I feel really sorry for Michael because he has had a lot of injuries before, but hopefully it will give me a chance to prove myself to Andre," McEachran said on Chelsea TV. "Hopefully, I will get a run-out against Portsmouth, that would be good. I just want to get more minutes this season, if not at Chelsea then I will go out on loan, but I want to play here as much as I can."
McEachran is looking forward to the club's Asian tour, which will feature games against a Malaysia XI and Thailand All Stars before taking on Hong Kong First Division League champions Kitchee and either Aston Villa or Blackburn in the Asia Trophy.
"It was good to play my first game back against Wycombe this week, good to get some touches of the ball and be back in match situations," he said. "I went away with the first team last pre-season when we played in Germany for a few days, but this will be the first tour when I go away for two weeks so it should be good."
It remains to be seen whether McEachran, who made 17 appearances for Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti last season, will be part of the first-team group in the coming campaign, or as he suggested gain some more first-team experience elsewhere.
The academy graduate intends to continue his hard work and progression towards one day becoming a Chelsea regular, having penned a five-year deal. "A long-term contract is what I wanted since I was a kid, and hopefully I will spend my career at Chelsea," he said. "It will be good if I do, but I need to keep working. This season my target is just to play more minutes. Hopefully I will play more games and keep improving."
England U-21 defender Ryan Bertrand has also penned a new four-year deal at Stamford Bridge. Bertrand joined Chelsea from Gillingham in July 2005 and had productive loan spells in the Championship with Norwich, Reading and Nottingham Forest, returning to make his Chelsea debut as a substitute against Birmingham in April.
The young full-back, who turns 22 next month, is also hoping to "catch the manager's eye" this season. He said: "I can see the manager is young and hungry and wants to take the club forward so I want to be part of that and I thought it was best for me to stay. Obviously Ashley [Cole] is number one left- back, but hopefully I can get a game here and there."