Preview of Blues' U21 friendly against Chelsea
Southend United U21s travel to Chelsea for their first pre-season fixture on Saturday.
Kevin Maher’s side have been in training for the last two weeks and face stern opposition to kick-off their pre-season schedule.
Maher, though, is excited to see him young side test themselves against a Premier League Academy.
“The players have worked hard in the last two weeks and they’re desperate to get out on the football pitch and play,” he said.
“It’s a tough one to take straight away but when they came on the phone asking for a game, we were more than happy to oblige.
“We went there last year and they had a team that cost well into tens of millions of pounds.
“They’re very strong so we know it will be tough for us but we did well there last year and they’ve invited us back. We were delighted to accept it and it will be a great experience for the players.
“We will be a young team and it might be an eye-opener for some of the players of what it takes to play for a Premier League Academy and to make it in the Premier League.
“The facilities are on another level but that’s part and parcel of it and hopefully they use it as an incentive to try to improve themselves, improve their careers and themselves as footballers.
“What better place to start things off than at Chelsea’s training ground.”