Table position can have a big impact on young players' minutes as the season starts to wind down, so where exactly are the English clubs in which Chelsea have players on loan?
There isn't a whole lot to write about concerning Chelsea today, so I thought now would be a good time in which to look in on the situations that some of our younger loanees are finding themselves in with the stretch run approaching. Today we're going to look at the 6 teams in England to which we have loaned a youngster*, to see where they are at in the table and how that position may affect our youngsters' chances of playing time:
*We'll get to the rest of Europe tomorrow
West Bromwich Albion: West Brom have a dozen games to go in the league, and currently sit in 9th place in the table with 37 points. They are out of every other competition in which they played, so Romelu Lukaku will probably have 11 more chances to impress (he won't be eligible against Chelsea).
An 11-point gap to fourth place is probably too much to make up to worry about a Champions League place, but closing the 5-point gap to 6th and qualifying for the Europa League could be possible. Looking in the other direction, relegation isn't really a worry at all.
Watford: Watford have been rolling lately, and they currently sit 3rd in the nPower Championship table. They've played 32 games, meaning they have 16 more to play (and potentially more should they finish in places 3-6). They are out of both domestic cups, so their focus will be solely on promotion.
There seems little doubt at this point that Watford will be in the discussion for promotion at the end of the season, as they have a 10-point cushion before falling out of the playoff spots. I'd think the focus for them would be on finishing in the top 2 places, in doing so ensuring promotion and avoiding the 4-team playoff for the final spot. Hull city sit just ahead of them on 59 points, while Cardiff City have a comfortable 11-point cushion over Watford at the top with a game in hand. As Chalobah has been one of the best players in the division this season, I'd expect him to start every game if he's not injured or suspended.
Middlesbrough: Boro surprised many when they were sitting near the top of the table after the early going, but they've come back to Earth a bit of late and are closer to where you'd expect a team with a goal differential of just +1 to be. They are still in an excellent position in 6th place, with a 4 point cushion (but having played an extra game) between themselves and the dreaded 7th place.
Boro are still alive in the FA Cup as well, they have a date in just over a week with Chelsea (McEachran will not be eligible for that one). A win in that game sets up a trip to Old Trafford, so their odds of advancing much deeper than the quarters are very, very low. Tony Mowbray has stated that he'd like to rest Josh a bit down the stretch, but I'd think that would be easier said than done with a promotion playoff spot to play for. This will be a great chance for McEachran to show his stuff, so hopefully he's not given too much rest or used on the flanks yet again.
Nottingham Forest: Forest look like they'll finish safely in the middle of the table, currently sitting on 42 points after 32 games played. They are out of all of the cup competitions, so they have just the 16 games of their league schedule remaining. They have a very slim chance of catching up to that last promotion playoff spot, but they'd have to play awfully well for the next two and a half months to do so.
With little pressure on them, Sam Hutchinson would seem likely to be involved fairly often. Unfortunately for Sam, he doesn't appear to be anywhere close to returning to the pitch at this point. If he ever gets healthy, it will be interesting to see if their third manager of the year actually opts to use an on-loan player for what will likely be a relatively pressure free run in. Having not played at all under Alex McLeish or now Billy Davies, it's hard to say what sort of role he would have if healthy.
MK Dons: Dons sit right in the middle of the League One table after 30 games, on 44 points and 11 behind the promotion playoff places. With a pair of games in hand over most of the rest of the league, they may still be harboring hopes of catching one of those spots.
Patrick Bamford hasn't played much for the club after suffering an injured hamstring in his first go-around, but he obviously impressed the manager as he was brought back despite the injury. I'd think he would feature heavily after he recovers enough to play.
Colchester United: Colchester were in a very bad spot when they took on Billy Clifford and Sam Walker, sitting comfortably in the relegation places of League One. They've been much better of late though, and have managed to crawl just outside of the relegation zone and into 20th place.
They have 16 games left to go, and both Clifford and Walker will likely play in the vast majority of them as they are two of their better players. Every point will count for Colchester, as they are still very much in danger of dropping down to League Two. This should be a really fantastic experience for the pair, as these games will have a ton of meaning and should really do loads for their development.