Much has been made of young Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran’s meteoric rise to prominence. The 17 year old made his first-team debut against MSK Zilina in the Champions League and followed this up with substitute appearances against Newcastle United in the Carling Cup and Manchester City on the weekend. In his three appearances, McEachran’s composure and maturity have caught the eye but is he ready to make the step up to start regularly for Chelsea?
McEachran has been at Chelsea’s academy for 9 years after having been spotted playing for his local side Garden City F.C. in Oxford. His ability even at an early age was clearly evident and he has progressed rapidly through the Chelsea ranks. He was an integral part of Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup winning side from last season, turning a number of dominant performances in the centre of midfield.
In addition to his youth team exploits, McEachran has also been featuring regularly for Steve Holland’s reserve side along with fellow academy stars Gael Kakuta and Jeffrey Bruma.
His talent has brought international recognition and McEachran has been capped by England at U-16 and U-17 level. He was part of the victorious U-17 side which won this summer’s European Championships, with McEachran delivering the assist for Andre Wisdom to score the opening goal in the final.
A gifted play-maker with great technique and vision, comparisons to Frank Lampard are inevitable. Indeed, McEachran himself has welcomed the comparison and has looked to incorporate Lampard’s style of play into his own game. Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, McEachran said:
“Look at Frank Lampard. I need to get into the box more and score more and that will help me as a player, so I will try that more this season.”
And from what we have seen so far, comparing McEachran to Lampard might not be too far off.
Against Newcastle, McEachran looked completely at ease in possession and showed an impressive range of passing in an assured display after coming on as a substitute. He dropped into space intelligently and used the ball well. He almost managed to get himself on the scoresheet when he cut inside a Newcastle defender and forced a save from Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.
His confidence must have been sky-high after impressing against Zilina and Newcastle and he showed his class once again in a ten-minute cameo against Manchester City on the weekend. He looked to get on the ball at every available opportunity and invariably used it well. He also produced a moment of sublime skill when he dragged the ball back to leave two Manchester City players on their backsides.
There is no question of McEachran’s talents and he is certainly highly-rated at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has ruled out the possibility of McEachran going out on loan as he looks to give the youngster a chance to develop in the first-team with players such as Lampard and Yossi Benayoun currently out injured.
He looks a little lightweight and needs to bulk up a bit in order to deal with the physicality of the Premier League but he is still young and will no doubt fill out his frame in the not too distant future.
We shouldn’t expect too much too soon from McEachran but he looks like a real talent that has the potential to become the first English academy player since John Terry to feature prominently in the Chelsea line-up.
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