Chelsea’s vaunted yet equally infamous “Loan Army” system is far from perfect, and it’s certainly contributed to several egregious and notable misses in terms of keeping our most promising young players with the club. At the same time, it’s also proven a steady source of income and, even more importantly, has recently helped develop quite a few first-team players, including the likes of Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Mason Mount, and Tammy Abraham.
One of the newest members of this season’s Loan Army is 20-year old midfielder Jon Russell, who is currently on his first assignment and certainly hoping to take full advantage of the opportunities available to him to gain some solid senior-level experience.
“I’d say get out there, but if you are doing really well, playing first team for Chelsea then stay. But I’d just say get out there, see what different kind of football there is [compared] to U23s.”
Russell may only be at League One Accrington Stanley — one of three Chelsea loanees at the club in fact, alongside goalkeeper Nathan Baxter and forward Tariq Uwakwe — but the third division is still a massive step up from youth and developmental football. There are plenty of lessons that need to be learned and tons of experiences that are available to be gained.
“[The veterans are] telling you what to do and what not do, and they are helping you as a player. It is a big help when you have got players with experience telling you what to do because they know it.”
-Jon Russell; source: Accrington Stanley via Inside Futbol
Accrington are currently mid-table in League One, but they have anywhere from 2-to-4 matches-in-hand over the rest of the division due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the club last month that saw the postponement of four league matches.
After a two-week shutdown, Stanley returned to action last weekend with a 1-0 win over Northampton Town, Russell scoring the game’s only goal, and his second for the club in six appearances, earning League One Team of the Week honors in the process.
Keep it up, Jon!