Van Ginkel watch: Midfielder rusty in comeback game

So. Marco van Ginkel makes his long-awaited return after an ACL tear against Swindon forced him to sit out for most of the season. He healed up fast -- he's still very young, after all -- and Chelsea's under-21 match against Manchester United represented his first chance to get some playing time under his belt as he continues his rehab work.

After a scoreless first half in which the visiting Blues were thoroughly in control, van Ginkel came on for Reece Mitchell at the break. It looked as though he was supposed to be playing as the holder in a 4-3-3, dropping between the centre backs at times, but he seemed so excited to be back on the pitch that he made rather a lot of forward runs. It's possible that that was by design, but it certainly didn't feel that way.

It's also safe to say that the injury layoff has resulted in some rustiness, to the point where the United players he fouled should probably get tetanus vaccinations just to be safe. There was sloppy passing and sloppy tackling, and although his vision was good his timing was just a little bit off. There was one positive moment when he took a feed by Lewis Baker and forced Ben Amos into a good save, but by and large it was a forgettable performance.

But we're grading van Ginkel on a curve here. All he needed to do was to get through a half with no further injury problems, and he did exactly that. The knee's working fine, he moved around well and with more playing time he'll shake off that rust. He's nowhere near ready for first team action, but then again nobody expected him to be. Welcome back, Marco!

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