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Former Manchester United prospect Danny Drinkwater happy to be part of Chelsea on Sunday

AS Roma v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Before reaching the apex of his career so far at Leicester City, Manchester-born midfielder Danny Drinkwater spent a dozen years in Manchester United’s youth academy and loan brigade. In a story that will be familiar to any follower of the Chelsea youth academy, Drinkwater did not earn a single senior appearance for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, making the bench once then spending three seasons on various loans in the second and third divisions. Drinkwater eventually got tired of the loanee life and joined then Championship side Leicester City in January 2012. Four and a half years later, he was Premier League champion and an England international.

Youth development is never easy or straightforward.

As one would expect, Danny and his family are all fans of Chelsea’s next opponents, Manchester United. But as the new signing describes, on Sunday, they will all be supporting the good guys instead.

“Yes, most of my family are Manchester United fans but that’s got nothing to do with the way I approach the game, every time I play against them I want to beat them. They might be United fans in my family but I’m sure, come the weekend, they’ll all be supporting Chelsea.”

Drinkwater arrived at Chelsea in the final hours of the summer transfer window having sat out the prior month with a minor injury of some sort — a situation already far from ideal. This only worsened when only a few days later he picked up a different, and certainly more real injury in a training session.

It took Danny almost two months to recover and get fit enough to make his Chelsea debut, when he was picked to start our 2-1 win over Everton in the League Cup. He’s featured as a substitute in both of our games since, the win over Bournemouth in the Premier League and the loss to AS Roma in the Champions League.

And while he’s still not quite fully fit — that’s a bit of a theme at Chelsea this season — he’s more than willing to do whatever Antonio Conte asks of him this weekend.

“I’m feeling good and I’m getting there. I have to trust the manager’s plan and whether I’m involved on Sunday or not, the most important thing is that we get a result.”

“In terms of the football side it was hard because I picked up the injury early but other than that it’s a great football club, a great place and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

“I’ve loved working with Antonio so far. His ability to read the opposition, and what they will try to do in a game, is fantastic. He’s definitely one of the best managers I’ve worked under.”

-Danny Drinkwater; Source: Chelsea FC

Hopefully the upcoming international break, unlike the last one that ruled out N’Golo Kanté for a month, will prove a blessing for Chelsea’s ailing players and the squad can finally start operating at full capacity. But before that, all focus must be on three points against Manchester United.

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