Ruben Loftus-Cheek took another step forward on his long road to recovery today, featuring in a behind-closed-doors development squad friendly against Brentford B.
Loftus-Cheek has been out with an Achilles injury since May. Frank Lampard reported recently he had returned to training with the men’s team, and as part of his rehabilitation he played an hour at Cobham for our development squad this morning. He will continue to build up his fitness in the coming weeks.
Brentford B won 2-0 with both the goals coming in the second half. Our west London neighbours missed two good early opportunities before Chelsea grew into the game. Billy Gilmour, who played the full 90 minutes, forced a good save from Patrik Gunnarsson, and then we nearly took the lead in bizarre circumstances. A misplaced back-header hit the post, rebounded onto the sprawling Gunnarsson and spun away from the goal-line to safety.
On the stroke of half-time Loftus-Cheek drove into the box and created space for a shot that whistled just wide.
Brentford, who featured a number of players with first team experience, took the lead early in the second half, Fredrik Hammar volleying home.
Chelsea sub Thierno Ballo was a lively presence up front and twice drew superb saves out of Gunnarsson. Myles Peart-Harris, who replaced Loftus-Cheek, was also denied by the Icelandic keeper.
As the game opened up, Brentford doubled their lead late on when Dru Yearwood slotted home from close range.
The development squad are next in action on Monday 17 February when they play Arsenal away.
This coming Monday 10 February our Under-18s continue their FA Youth Cup campaign at home to Wolves. Kick-off is at 7pm and there is full live coverage on the Fifth Stand app.