Chelsea are reportedly ready to promote Patrick Bamford into the first team for the rest of the season.
The 22-year-old striker recently cut short a loan spell at Crystal Palace. He joined the Eagles last summer, but made only six substitute appearances for Alan Pardew in the Premier League.
He was expected to go out on loan again this month, with Bournemouth interested in his signature, but Chelsea may instead give Bamford a chance in the first-team squad, according to the Daily Mail.
The Blues are in desperate need of some support and cover for Diego Costa, who is showing signs of returning to form. Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy have not proven to be able deputies.
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Chelsea’s back-up brigade have had their fitness issues this season and have also been linked with January exits by The Express. This could present an opening for Bamford to make his mark.
The England Under-21 international joined Chelsea from Nottingham Forest in 2012 but was ignored by Jose Mourinho despite prolific loan spells at MK Dons and Middlesbrough in successive seasons.
Mourinho was famously reluctant to put his faith in youngsters. Talents such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek have stagnated at the club, and plenty of others have been tragically lost in the loan system.
But interim boss Guus Hiddink seems ready to ditch the Mourinho model, starting with Bamford, who has been given a glowing reference by Hiddink’s former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins.
Wilkins told Sky Sports: “I look at Chelsea and Patrick Bamford. When a side like Chelsea are playing to the ability that they have I’m sure you can throw a young man in and give him an opportunity to play.
“I’m sure Bamford, who scored 19 goals for Middlesbrough in the Championship last season, would score goals for Chelsea because he is a very bright human being.
“OK, he’s not the quickest but given the opportunities that Chelsea create I think he could score a goal. Whether they let him back out on loan, I’ve no idea, but if they do then I think they have to strengthen.”
A Chelsea source told the Daily Mail on Bamford: “He is going to be given a chance with the first team. There’s a swell of support for Patrick at Chelsea. Don’t be surprised to see him on the bench.”
Chelsea’s next match is an FA Cup third-round tie against League One outfit Scunthorpe United on Sunday, which would surely be the perfect opporunity to hand Bamford an overdue Blues debut.
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