When Chelsea flew out to Dublin on Tuesday, the plan for the first-team group was to spend a week away from Cobham during which they would play a friendly against Irish side Drogheda United.
None of that has gone to plan.
football.london understands the Blues are heading home this morning after a member of their travelling party tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. The result of that test also caused their Blues friendly with Drogheda to be called off at the last moment.
Chelsea were quick to alter their plans for what proved their final night at the Carton House Hotel.
An intra-squad friendly was organised between the available players and the contest ended 1-1 with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Armando Broja on the scoresheet.
The runout will have proved beneficial for the players’ fitness, but there will be frustration among Thomas Tuchel’s coaching team that the competitiveness of playing an unfamiliar opponent was lost.
A game is a game, however. There will have been learning opportunities for the Chelsea head coach and his staff as the Blues’ squad went head to head.
And here is what we spotted from the contest.
Hudson-Odoi makes his mark
It’s been a good pre-season (so far) for the 20-year-old, who football.london has been told has looked very sharp since returning to Cobham a fortnight ago.
Hudson-Odoi undertook plenty of individual gym work over the summer and sources have noted that the burst of acceleration from a standing start that was so important to his game at youth level has returned.
Hudson-Odoi was played off the left flank during the match last night, his preferred role, and caught the eye with a goal. He will be hopeful of maintaining that form in the weeks ahead with the Blues set to face Bournemouth, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Sarr’s leap of faith
Had things worked out a little differently, Malang Sarr would’ve been away from Chelsea for much of pre-season.
The centre-back was initially called up by France for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, only for that decision to be reversed days later. And so Sarr has instead remained with Tuchel’s squad.
There is a natural home for the 22-year-old on the left of the Chelsea back three, although that is a role that, when everybody is available, is occupied by Antonio Rudiger.
It will not be easy for Sarr to usurp the German but one was made clear during yesterday’s game, he’s got a hell of a jump on him.
Gallagher pushing amid loan interest
After a successful loan at West Bromwich Albion last season, the expectation was that Gallagher would return to Chelsea this summer and push for a place in Tuchel’s squad.
The is what is being played out. However, football.london understands that two Premier League sides have made pitches to Gallagher about another loan move away from Stamford Bridge.
Leeds United and Crystal Palace are both hoping to secure the midfielder’s services and a deal may take place if he isn’t deemed ready for the first-team fold by Tuchel.
For now, he is still hard to prove himself to the German.
The Ruben remontada is on
It’s easy to forget the level Ruben Loftus-Cheek reached under Maurizio Sarri prior to the Achilles injury that kept him out of action for more than a year.
The academy graduate was, behind Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s most consistent performer for several months. That is the level he is trying to get back to.
Last season’s loan spell at Fulham did result in many goals or assists (one in total) but he did make over 30 appearances and regain trust in his body. That was all-important.
Loftus-Cheek has looked strong during the training sessions run by Tuchel, who is a fan of the 25-year-old from his days at Borussia Dortmund.
If Loftus-Cheek is able to maintain his performances levels over the next three weeks, there is a genuine chance of him being incorporated into the German’s set-up.
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