Josh McEachran celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday by making us all feel very old and also by signing a short-term contract through the end of the season with MK Dons. He had been training with the third division side since requesting Birmingham City to cancel his contract in January, and now becomes the third former Chelsea Academy player in the Dons squad, alongside our former youth captain Jordan Houghton, 25, and young forward Charlie Brown, 21, who arrived in the winter transfer window.
It’s bit of a reclamation project for McEachran, as he looks to get back to playing regularly after being blighted by injuries in the last few years, both while at Brentford and then at Birmingham, where he suffered a knee ligament tear 13 months ago.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity that the gaffer has given me and I just can’t wait to get started. I came here to keep fit but everyone has been fantastic with me. The way the Gaffer wants to play is suited to me. I like to get on the ball as much as possible and dictate play so it felt like a perfect fit.
“I have been out for a little while now but this is the fittest and strongest I’ve felt for a long time. Hopefully I can get back to playing regular football and help the team out.”
-Josh McEachran; source: MK Dons
Before leaving Chelsea for good in 2015, McEachran was one of the many lost souls in the oversized Chelsea Loan Army, the promise he had shown back under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010-11 (17 first-team appearances that season at age 17), a long distant memory even by then.
Wonderfully gifted with an abundance of technique, McEachran used to be often brought up as a shining example of how Chelsea’s Loan policies destroyed careers and set players up for failure. But as he reflects on a decade of ups, down, major highs and deep lows in a great interview with Football.London’s Adam Newson, McEachran knows that things were always far more complicated than the narrative would have it.
“Looking back now as a more experienced player, I realise I could’ve pushed myself more when I was out on loan. I didn’t perhaps help myself out in that respect. So I don’t just blame Chelsea for how they treated me with the loans, I blame myself too.
“I was young, a bit immature and naive. I’ve had a lot of setbacks since and they’ve helped me grow so much. If I had that maturity when I was younger, then perhaps I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in now.
“When I came back to Chelsea [in the summer of 2014] I didn’t really know what was going to happen next. The loan to Vitesse was then sorted and I knew my time at Chelsea was definitely over.”
McEachran has talked about his journey many times in the past (including that offer from Real Madrid), but I still encourage you to check out this latest interview, as he looks back on his past with increasing clarity of hindsight and wisdom of maturity.
“Of course I have moments where I’m frustrated about what’s happened in my career. That’s only natural. But it’s in the past, I can’t afford to dwell on it. My motivation is about what I can do next, what I can do to improve myself, what I can do to shape my future.”
-Josh McEachran; source: Football.London
Good luck, Joshie!