Chelsea’s pre-season training began last Wednesday with the members of the squad who were not involved in the World Cup. Double sessions were the order of the day for the rest of the week as the players looked to regain their sharpness after the summer break.
Their first test will come at Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday 16 July, presenting the perfect opportunity for the fringe players to impress Jose Mourinho.
Although Petr Cech has returned to full training after the shoulder injury that kept him out of last season’s run-in, Mark Schwarzer is likely to start in goal. The friendly nature of the tie means that Cech could be brought on in the second half for his first taste of competitive action since April.
Despite rumours of his imminent departure, per Matt Law at The Telegraph, Ryan Bertrand should start at left-back, as Cesar Azpilicueta is yet to rejoin the squad. If Bertrand is unavailable, youngster Jay Dasilva could step up after signing his scholar forms and joining the training sessions last week.
John Terry will likely be partnered by Kurt Zouma in the centre of defence, with Nathan Ake available as a second-half substitute. While Gary Cahill is away, the two youngsters will have the chance to prove that they are ready to join the first-team rotation for 2014-15. Branislav Ivanovic will complete the back four.
Nemanja Matic should start as the midfield anchor, partnered by returning loanee Nathaniel Chalobah. Chalobah’s Chelsea career has consisted of several loan spells so far, but this pre-season with an initially depleted squad should show whether he is ready to stay at Stamford Bridge next season.
Oriol Romeu could replace Matic in the second half, having returned from his season-long loan at Valencia, while Marco van Ginkel is likely to replace Chalobah at some point.
Lewis Baker could start in front of Chalobah and Matic, having impressed Mourinho on his debut against Derby County last season and winning the Young Player of the Year award. Mohamed Salah and Lucas Piazon should complete the attacking midfield, although under-21 star John Swift could be called up to replace Salah.
Per Massimo Marioni of The Metro, Mourinho has been carefully monitoring Patrick Bamford’s progress out on loan to Derby County, where he scored 25 goals last season. It has been suggested that he could stay at Stamford Bridge for the 2014-15 season as a reserve striker, according to Ben Jefferson of The Express, and this game will give him the opportunity to make his case.
Demba Ba will also have some involvement, while 16-year-old Dominic Solanke could make the bench.
Although the majority of the squad is yet to return from the World Cup, Mourinho will use this fixture to assess his options for next season. The presence of several youth players gives him a glimpse into the future of the dynasty he is building, and while the result of this match is of little consequence, you can expect the Special One to chase a win.
Player profiles and news taken from the official Chelsea website unless otherwise noted.
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