'No room' for young players at Chelsea, says Clifford

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The Irish midfielder had a promising start to his career at Stamford Bridge but he says it is hard for young players to make a breakthrough

A Chelsea FA Youth Cup-winning captain says that there is "no room" for young players at Stamford Bridge once they get past a certain age.

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Conor Clifford captained the Blues to FA Youth Cup glory in 2010, scoring the winning goal in the final against Aston Villa, but the midfielder left the club in 2013.

During his time at Chelsea, the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international was sent out on loan to five different clubs, but failed to make a single senior appearance for the London side.

"At Chelsea, there's no room for you when you get past reserve stage," Clifford told the Irish Independent.

"There's just so many players, so the next step if you're not in or around the first team, is to go out on loan.

"There were 40-something players out. You go out, you get called back and then you get shipped out again."

Following his departure from the club, Clifford subsequently had spells with Leicester City, Southend United, and most recently Boreham Wood.

He has since signed for Irish champions Dundalk, where he is hoping to help the club emulate their exploits in this season's Europa League..

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Despite not making a breakthrough at Chelsea, the former Crumlin United youth stressed that he enjoyed his six years at the club, where he gained a "good upbringing" in a positive environment.

"[It was] the best time of my life, I loved it there," said the Dublin native.

"I had a good upbringing playing with some of the best players in the world. I liked the environment, the people I was around."

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