With suspensions to Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa, and injuries to Joe Cole, Yuri Zhirkov, Deco and Paulo Ferreira leaving Carlo Ancelotti’s squad relatively threadbare ahead of tonight’s visit of FC Porto, the Italian has admitted he will have to turn to Chelsea's youth system for reinforcements.
“[Because of injuries and suspensions] We need to take three players from the academy,” Ancelotti said in yesterday’s press conference.
“But we are happy to do this because we think we have very good talent and this is a very good opportunity for them to enter the squad.”
When asked if he already knew who he would call upon, the former AC Milan manager revealed that Sam Hutchinson, Jeffrey Bruma, and Fabio Borini would likely be in the squad.
So what should Chelsea fans know about these three emerging players?
Injuries have ravaged Hutchinson’s germinating career, and this is reflected in the fact that, at 20 years of age, he is the oldest of the three young players being called upon.
Having been with the club since he was nine, however, Hutchinson is certainly a home-grown talent. A centre-back, Hutchinson was taken on last season’s tour of the United States, where former manager Jose Mourinho talked about his potential to become a first-team regular.
Indeed, Mourinho handed Hutchinson his debut for the first-team in May 2007, as the youngster came on as a late substitute against Everton during the final game of the season.
Unfortunately, a serious knee injury blighted his next two campaigns, with the former England Under-19 captain forced to return to the US to receive specialist treatments.
He is only now making up for lost time, having once again gone on the club's US tour this summer, but a season free of injury is considered the priority by the club's coaching staff.
An 86th minute appearance against Fulham earlier in the season indicates many of the questions about his fitness might have gone, and he will likely be the first youngster sent on tonight if an injury befalls one of the starting defenders.
A Netherlands Under-19 international, Bruma is rated highly by the Chelsea coaches and has frequently trained with the first team squad as the club’s staff look to accelerate his progression.
"The club has told me I will have every chance of playing for the senior team, which has given me a lot of confidence," Bruma has been quoted as saying in the past.
"I talk every day with guys like Alex and John Terry. They tell me to train hard, harder than the others - and to do extra work after the regular training sessions.
"They say that I just must have patience, then take my chance when it comes."
Perhaps too lightweight for that role in the first team just yet, the former Feyernoord youngster’s natural athleticism and technical ability allows him to slot in at either full-back position, and it is perhaps this versatility that Ancelotti has in mind, especially with senior full-backs Bosingwa and Ferreira unavailable.
Bruma featured on the Blues bench a couple of times last season, but did not get onto the pitch on any occasion. If things go his way, that might change tonight.
The Italian striker joined Chelsea from Bologna as a 16-year-old in 2007, and has developed quickly at his new club, with observers pinpointing him and Gael Kakuta as two of the club’s most talented young forwards.
Ironically, Kakuta might have been the one on the Chelsea bench tonight had it not been for the four-month suspension he was handed after FIFA investigated his controversial move from Lens. Borini, then, looks set to profit.
Tall and with an eye for goal, the 18-year-old scored 11 goals in 10 games for the youth team last season, before stepping up to the reserves and finishing the season as the second string’s top scorer.
While Drogba’s suspension is likely to give the youngster a place on the bench, with Daniel Sturridge ahead in the pecking order it seems that unless Chelsea build an unassailable lead at Stamford Bridge it is unlikely Borini will find his way onto the pitch.
But, by picking him on the bench Ancelotti has certainly pinpointed his compatriot as one he expects to push for the first-team in the near future, and he must be hoping the experience of being around the team on a matchday will prove invaluable when his opportunity finally does arrive.