A Chelsea squad has today left the UK for Asia as the 2013 Here to Play Here to Stay tour gets underway.
Accompanying Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff during the first leg of the tour in Thailand will be a star-studded group of players including 17 full internationals, plus a selection of the promising young talent being developed by the club.
Many of those who helped Chelsea to European trophy success in the last two seasons boarded the plane to Thailand including captain John Terry, record goalscorer Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill and Ramires.
Winning goalscorer in the Europa League final, Branislav Ivanovic, is beginning his fifth pre-season at Chelsea, and all three new signings will be there in Asia – Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer.
Included in the young players travelling are four of the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2012 including Nathaniel Chalobah, who helped Watford to the Championship play-offs back in May during his loan spell there.
Scotland Under-21 international Islam Feruz, the centre-forward in the last two Youth Cup campaigns, is taking part in his first pre-season tour with the first team. Two more young players, Wallace and Bertrand Traore, may join the squad out in Asia.
The squad is:
Petr Cech, Mark Schwarzer, Jamal Blackman, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Tomas Kalas, Ashley Cole, Ryan Bertrand, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Josh McEachran, Marco van Ginkel, Ramires, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, Andre Schurrle, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku, Sam Walker, Nathaniel Chalobah, Lucas Piazon, Islam Feruz.
First stop is Bangkok where the players will take part in a week-long training and attend coaching clinics in the local community before the first match of the tour next Wednesday. After that the capital cities of Malaysia and Indonesia will host the Blues for further games.