Youth team midfielder Charlie Colkett looks ahead to tonight’s tie in South Wales and also talks about captaincy and help in improving his goal tally…
This evening (Tuesday) our youth team will be looking to book a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup for the fifth year in succession, as they take on Cardiff City in the Welsh capital in the fifth round of the coveted cup competition.
A 4-0 victory over non-league Dartford in round three was followed up with a 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the last round, with Izzy Brown, Charly Musonda, Dominic Solanke and Charlie Colkett on the scoresheet that night. The fourth of those, who netted from the penalty spot after an hour at Aldershot, has been speaking to the official Chelsea website in the build-up to the last-16 tie, and admitted he and his team-mates would have to improve on recent league form to keep their Cup run going.
‘We’ve lost two and drawn two of our last four league games and that’s obviously been disappointing,’ Colkett said. ‘The two defeats have been away from home and that’s something we’ve talked about as a group because we need to prove that we’re not just a home team.
‘It has been tough but we’ve been working hard on it. Training has been sharp and that’s what we’re looking to take into the game against Cardiff. We know that teams have been setting up very tight and compact against us but I think we’re good enough as players and as a team to break them down. We just need to have a little bit more patience and someone to take a risk with a bit of skill or a decisive pass forward.’
Despite being a first year scholar, Colkett’s name will be familiar to observers of Youth Cup football after his contributions last season as a schoolboy. He featured in every game from the quarter-finals onwards and, while defeat in the final was one of the toughest moments of his fledgling footballing career, the 17-year-old feels the competition is uniquely special.
‘Playing in the cup last year was one of the best experiences I’ve had in football. It’s definitely one of the best tournaments I’ve been involved in. I remember when I was 13 watching Josh McEachran in the Youth Cup at Stamford Bridge and thinking that was where I wanted to be, out there playing in it, so to do that last season as a schoolboy was a great achievement for me.
‘Losing in the final (pictured below) was one of the toughest moments but we all know there’s highs and lows in football and we just have to make sure we go one better this year. Suffering like that does make you want it that bit more. It’s all very well getting to finals but it’s about going that last bit and winning it.’
The England youth international midfielder, who recently received a first call-up to the national Under-18 squad, has been a regular for Adi Viveash’s youth side this season, despite an ill-timed injury sustained in pre-season. He has managed to put those early-season niggles behind him and has been rewarded with the captain’s armband in recent weeks, something he describes as ‘a proud achievement.’
‘I picked up a quad strain right at the start of pre-season so that was quite difficult for me. I wasn’t able to go to Austria and train with the rest of the boys and it was a little bit tough to handle mentally. I had a few setbacks in coming back as well but these things do help to make you stronger.
‘Being given the captaincy has been great. It’s something I’ll look to do when I’m older and it helps me to work on and improve my leadership skills. Playing in midfield, it helps to take on that dominant role and talk to your team-mates and organise.’
Another side of the game he is looking to improve on is scoring goals. His two this campaign have both come from the penalty spot, the most recent in a league defeat at Southampton at the start of the month, and he is keen to add that additional threat to his armoury. Like Under-21s midfielder John Swift, Charlie has received the advice of record club goalscorer Frank Lampard in recent weeks and reckons those tips will stand him in good stead for the future.
‘I’m certainly looking to add goals to my game and I know it’s something I am capable of. I used to score a lot of goals when I was younger and it’s just about having that confidence in front of goal. I was lucky enough to speak with Frank Lampard and he just emphasised to me about getting into those goalscoring positions every day in training, getting it into your head so it just becomes a natural thing, and then to have the composure to find the target.’
While Colkett’s aim to ripple the net with more regularity remains a target for the remainder of the season, as does training with the seniors (‘I trained with the first team a few times last season but I’ve yet to experience that yet this year under Jose Mourinho, so that’s just another goal to push towards’), the immediate focus remains on progressing past Cardiff and booking a last-eight trip to Newcastle.
‘There’s a lot of different dynamics in the group this year. Dom Solanke has been involved as a schoolboy, then there’s others from the Under-16s, first years, second years and players coming down from the Under-21s. We all get on well off the pitch and that will hopefully show on the pitch.
‘Adi mentioned that Cardiff might be similar to Wolves, who we played last week, so we’ve been speaking in training about having a quick tempo and keeping the ball moving. It’s a great stadium to play at and a great pitch and hopefully that will suit our football.’
Chelsea’s youth team versus Cardiff City in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup takes place this evening at the Cardiff City Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.05pm and the game is being screened live on Chelsea TV, with coverage starting at 7pm. You can also follow match updates on our twitter feed @chelseafc.
– By Sam Poplett