There's apparently a temptation to treat Ryan Bertrand as some sort of test case for Chelsea's academy. After all, he young left back is English, home grown (kind of -- he moved from Gillingham at 15) and in the Blues' first team, which marks him as a rarity at the club. If he becomes a first choice player, or so the story goes, then the academy will have finally proved its worth.
Of course, reality is more complicated than that, and Bertrand's success or lack thereof at Chelsea doesn't have much bearing on the youth setup, which continues to excel in recent years. It does, however, have a profound impact on the first team and Bertrand himself, so I imagine that most Chelsea supporters are firmly behind him. And considering how level-headed he comes across, it's difficult not to hope for the best for him.
Obviously I want to be Chelsea's No1 left-back, and when that time comes it will happen. All I can do is be ready and keep playing, keep biding my time. I just concentrate on progressing in the games I get, and I've managed to do so in recent years. That's the only target I have.
I wasn't really focused on it [Cole’s future] to be honest. I was just concentrating on myself, regardless of what happened. [If Cole had left there would have been] another left-back anyway, so it won't be: 'As soon as Ash goes, there we are, it's mine.' The work will still be there to do.
That's the way it is at the top level. You have to be able to compete. That's just the way it is, and it's the place I want to be. So I'm used to that.
Remember that this is a 23-year-old footballer who started in a Champions League final on the winning side. He could easily be a very different character, and it's to his credit that he's only focused on improving himself rather than beating out the opposition. Bertrand has the talent to go a long way, and if he makes the most of it it's difficult not to see his chance coming in the near future. What's much more difficult to imagine is him taking it for granted.
My favourite part is that this attitude isn't even that unusual amongst our younger players. Between the likes of Bertrand and Romelu Lukaku we're seeing talented youngsters prepared to work hard rather then be prima donnas who expect to be given everything. How very endearing.