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Marco van Ginkel makes first start in six months, helps Chelsea U21 to a 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers

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Stanley Chou

Marco van Ginkel took another important step forward in his rehabilitation program, making his first start in almost exactly six months since tearing his ACL against Swindon Town in the League Cup.

Last Friday, he played the second half in the 0-0 draw away to Manchester United.  Taking things slowly and reasonably, his work load was increased from 45 minutes to 60 minutes today.  He started alongside Lewis Baker in the center of midfield, supporting the attacking trio of Jeremie Boga, John Swift, and Alex Kiwomya.  With Blackburn offering very little resistance and lone forward and eventual goal-scorer Islam Feruz showing excellent movement, Chelsea were dominant for most of the first half though they managed just the one goal.  The second half was a bit more of a low-key, even affair - especially after Boga was forced off with what looked like a fairly serious ankle injury - but the Blues saw out the result without too much difficulty.

As far as Van Ginkel, it's probably fair to say that he's still showing plenty of rust, especially when it comes to his passing game.  His willingness to jump into the attack was once again on display however, and he formed a very fluid, efficient central trio with Baker and Swift as they toyed with the Blackburn defense.  Just before his withdrawal exactly on the hour mark, he even had a scoring opportunity, but scuffed his left-footed shot wide of the far post.  His defensive positioning was much better than last week, he pressured very effectively, and won the vast majority of 50-50 balls that came his way.

Grading on the Van Ginkel curve then, he definitely gets a higher grade from me this week than the last, which is probably all that anyone should be asking for at this point.  The road back from a major injury like an ACL tear is long, hard, and frustrating, but Marco's certainly making all the right steps on or ahead of schedule.