Teenage midfielder does well on first Stamford Bridge start.
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Josh McEachran made his first start for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League last night against MSK Zilina, and Carlo Ancelotti will have learned a great deal from his performance.
The Chelsea boss was certainly effusive in his praise.
“I think Josh McEachran can play every game,” said Ancelotti. “He showed his quality. He was good defensively, won a lot of tackles. And, obviously, with the ball he’s fantastic.
“He can play it short or long without problem. He played with personality and I’m happy with his performance. He has to grow, he has to improve, but he’s ready to play.”
The 17 year-old youth product played a holding role in the first half, similar to that of John Obi Mikel, and in the second moved further forward to what has recently been Zhirkov’s position – the left of the two central midfielders making forward runs.
Though slight in frame, McEachran found a number of his passes going astray both in attacking and defensive areas as he grew accustomed to his unfamiliar role.
He also failed to track Babatounde Bello’s run for Zilina’s goal, but that was his one mistake.
On the whole, his tackling was excellent and he was a composed presence in possession on an encouraging night for the teenager.
In the second half, he was even better.
Playing in the role that he is used to, the young midfielder was successful with all but four of his 42 passes, and performed intelligently in a continental style throughout.
If players such as McEachran and Jack Wilshere of Arsenal can continue their development in this fashion, England’s future might not look so bad after all.
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