Chelsea academy graduate Jamal Blackman, who is 26 (!) years of age now, has been recovering from the tibia fracture that he suffered in 15 months ago while he was at loan to Leeds United. Owing to the number of goalkeepers that Chelsea have at the club across all levels (Kepa, Willy C, Cumming, Tie, Ziger, Bergstrom, Askew, Wady), Jamal was loaned to Vitesse Arnhem in the final days of the summer transfer window, with a view to finish his recovery in a less pressurized environment with a more individualized focus. And while he did return to full training at Vitesse some time back, he had not made a competitive appearance.
While Blackman would have certainly seen more game-time at Vitesse than at Chelsea, he would still have had to compete with the experienced Remko Pasveer. Keeping this in mind, Chelsea have decided to switch Jamal’s loan Bristol Rovers in League One for the remainder of the season.
While this does represent a downgrade in terms of the level of play, Jamal will need to start slow and steady to recover the quality that he used to exhibit. For this to happen, he will need ample game-time and that is something he is much more likely to get at Bristol, especially as their first-choice goalkeeper just had surgery on his shoulder. Maybe in the summer, Jamal, who will have one more year left on his Chelsea contract, can think about moving to a better league if his resurgence goes as planned, although that move will likely be a permanent one this time.
Good luck at Bristol, Jamal!