Ryan Bertrand could well be the surprise name on the Chelsea team-sheet for tonight’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is considering handing the youngster his full European debut with injuries and suspensions ruling out a number of key men.
Ramires was previously utilised in front of Ashley Cole throughout the competition but with the Brazilian suspended, Bertrand could well be the man to nullify Bayern’s attacking threat down the right flank.
Much has been made of the attacking threat of Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben in the buildup to the final and Chelsea may well go with the youngster to give Cole some much needed defensive support as they look to shackle the pair.
There are still question marks over Florent Malouda’s fitness after he was forced to leave the field in the first half in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Blackburn. Malouda’s hamstring injury means he is unlikely to be risked and Bertrand could once again deputise for him after finishing the Blackburn game in an unfamiliar midfield position.
Di Matteo’s training methods have indicated that the 22-year-old could well be thrown in at the deep end after spending the week on the left of a midfield three in preparation for the showpiece occasion.
The ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest loanee has impressed when called upon so far this season with a number of composed performances including seven in the Premier League. Bertrand was not originally included in Chelsea’s original Champions League making his sudden elevation even more surprising.
Long touted as Cole’s long term replacement, tonight could well be the night when Ryan Bertrand makes a name for himself on the biggest stage of all.