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Nathan Ake hoping for first-team involvement this season

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Winner winner, U21 Premier League dinner!
Winner winner, U21 Premier League dinner!
Paul Thomas

Nathan Aké has been with Chelsea since 2011 and in the three seasons since, he's racked up 78 appearances for various youth sides and 7 appearances for the first-team, only one of which came last season, on the final day against Cardiff City.  He's hoping to improve that ratio in favor of first-team appearances this season.

"In these friendlies all the younger players are looking to perform and impress the manager, if we do that hopefully we will be involved with the squad this season. I'm working hard every day in training, the games are coming and it's important that I do my best."

Aké has started all of our preseason matches so far, and while that's likely to not be the case going forward with the full complement of defenders restored to the traveling squad, the 2012-13 Chelsea Young Player of the Year is hoping that he'll get more opportunities to show off his skills.

"In the first game I was pleased with my performance, it went well for me but the whole team played well.  I managed to get an assist in the first half as well for Patrick, so I was pleased."

"The second game wasn't so good for me personally, my crosses weren't good enough and there were some little points I need to work on to improve, but I've taken that on board."

Since the club chose not to loan out Aké last season, he now qualifies as home-grown (i.e. "club trained") for both Premier League and Champions League purposes.  His future is looking Blue, having signed a five-year deal just last summer.  But at just 19, he's far from a complete product, though his versatility could prove a valuable asset as backup to the first-team in three positions (defensive midfield, center back, left back) if he sticks around Cobham.

So once again, we need to find the most ideal solution, the one that's best for both club and player not just for this year but for the future.  It's certainly not easy being in charge.