Sounds like it's just about time for Josh McEachran to escape the basket. McEachran's been claiming via Twitter that he's set to go out on loan, and now we've got confirmation from Andre Villas-Boas that the young midfielder will be sent away for some seasoning this window:
The only one we have outlined to loan is Josh McEachran and a deal is almost done for him.
My initial reaction: Thank goodness. Although Andre Villas-Boas has made strides that Carlo Ancelotti did not - the introduction of 20-year-old Oriol Romeu and 22-year-old Daniel Sturridge to the first team is a major positive step - the exclusion of McEachran from games he could easily be featuring in coming off the bench has been incredibly frustrating. Josh is too good of a talent to be stuck on the bench or out of the squad entirely, and it's depressing that we've barely been able to watch him this year.
That said, I'm not entirely sure that this is the manager's fault. There've been days where it looked as though Josh was primed to get an appearance if Chelsea had things under control only for the game to remain close for too long. The collapse against Bayer Leverkusen in the penultimate match of the Champions League group stages robbed him of a certain start against Valencia. McEachran's Carling Cup runouts were curtailed by red cards to Alex and Ross Turnbull. Playing him against Portsmouth would have resulted in him being cup-tied for a potential loan team.
So, there are excuses galore Villas-Boas can use. The problem is that none of them are that convincing. Romelu Lukaku and Ryan Bertrand* have both been under-utitlised to a point that's almost criminal, especially with Ashley Cole being so overworked and Fernando Torres being so himself. Sure, we probably overrate our youth, but they're not going to do anything unless we give them a chance, and it's massively annoying that some of the brightest stars the academy has produced aren't getting them.
*Nickname nomination: The Three Basketeers.
A loan, then, is perfect. Scuttlebutt suggests Swansea, and that sounds more or less perfect as far as I'm concerned. They try to play the sort of football that Josh is most suited to and don't appear to be particularly concerned about a relegation battle. Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa have also been sounded out as possible destinations, but they seem less plausible thanks to Bolton's league position and Alex McLeish respectively.
Ultimately, no matter where McEachran ends up, I just want to see him play. Please, please, please get on the pitch, Josh. You're one of our great hopes for the future and we need you to come good.