6 Players Who Could Be Part of a Second-String Chelsea Team vs. Liverpool
It's been one of the main talking points for much of the week: Will Jose Mourinho field a weakened team against Liverpool on Sunday ahead of Chelsea's Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid three days later?
Injuries and suspensions have meant some of Mourinho's decisions have been made for him, with the Blues manager confirming at his Friday press conference that Eden Hazard, Samuel Eto'o and John Terry are all potentially unavailable, per Chelsea's official website.
Ramires is also serving a four-game ban for violent conduct after he was retrospectively punished for appearing to slap Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson in last weekend's 2-1 defeat, while a dislocated shoulder means Petr Cech is unlikely to feature before the season is out.
Chelsea have plenty of talent in reserve, with the likes of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah impressing in Premier League games recently, featuring prominently due to being cup-tied in the Champions League.
Outside of the familiar faces, however, who else can Mourinho call upon?
Bleacher Report highlights six players who would be capable of filling in for their more senior colleagues at Anfield on Sunday.
Young Dutch midfielder Nathan Ake got plenty of bench time at the back end of last season under Rafa Benitez.
With the stakes somewhat higher this time out—Chelsea's title challenge having been sustained for much longer, while they also remain in the Champions League—he hasn't been as close to making matchday squads.
He has continued to show in performances for the under-21s what a talent he is, however, and when he made his full Premier League debut last season against Everton on the final day, he didn't look out of place.
Facing a rampant Liverpool at Anfield is a different test altogether, but he is highly thought of at Stamford Bridge and who knows, Sunday's clash could mark his arrival.
The name Tomas Kalas will be familiar to Chelsea fans as the Czech centre-back has been a regular on the bench for the Blues this term.
A two-year loan spell at Vitesse Arnhem from 2011-12 to the end of last season has whet the appetite for what he is capable of, though, and supporters are certainly eager to see him tested.
Given his limited game time, it would be a considerable ask to expect Kalas to fill the boots of John Terry, yet by having him on the bench for long spells this season, Jose Mourinho has shown an element of faith in his abilities.
He's not long celebrated his 18th birthday, yet if the likes of Tomas Kalas are bumped up into Jose Mourinho's starting XI at Anfield on Sunday, Andreas Christensen could be a name we see on the bench.
The Danish defender has seen his reputation go from strength to strength at Stamford Bridge this term, with some excellent displays for Dermot Drummy's under-21s catching the eye.
That he has been 18 for barely two weeks, yet is a regular for the Chelsea under-21s, outlines how highly regarded he is.
Christensen is one to watch for the future and his time for some first-team experience could be as soon as Sunday.
The above clip from Chelsea TV has seen Lewis Baker hitting newspaper columns and web forums all week after his sensational goal against Arsenal under-21s.
For those who have been familiar with the name, but not his talents, it's a bit of skill that goes a long way to explaining what all the hype has been about.
Baker made his Chelsea first-team debut against Derby County in the FA Cup earlier this season and is showing signs he is ready for some more recognition from Jose Mourinho.
He is a talented attacking midfielder and if his development continues the way it is hoped, we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the coming years.
Having been at Chelsea since an under-13, Jamal Blackman has risen through the Stamford Bridge ranks to earn a place in the first-team squad.
Save for the odd appearance on the bench, he hasn't featured much elsewhere, however.
Now Petr Cech is injured with a dislocated shoulder and expected to be out for the rest of the season, suddenly Mark Schwarzer's importance has become vital.
It leaves a place on the bench for either Hilario or Blackman to fill, so why not give it to the 20-year-old.
Blackman is an England under-19 international and also won the FA Youth Cup with Chelsea in 2012.
He's at a stage of his career where he needs opportunities to progress further. Now is the time for him to seize the moment and attempt to make an impression on Jose Mourinho.
Marco Van Ginkel
Had it not been for a serious knee injury suffered early in the campaign, we would have seen much more of Marco van Ginkel this season.
The Dutch midfielder was an almost ever-present throughout pre-season and showed then just what a talent he will develop to be at Chelsea.
Given the schedule of late and also the importance of Chelsea's matches, it's been difficult for Jose Mourinho to re-integrate van Ginkel as he continues to recover from that injury.
He has been back in action, playing for the under-21s, however. With Ramires suspended and Hazard expected to miss out through injury, Chelsea's numbers in midfield are looking thin ahead of their trip to Liverpool.
It may be unrealistic to get a full 90 minutes out of van Ginkel, but his presence on the bench would certainly give Mourinho options later in the game as he looks to rotate players.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes
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