Robinson excited by EFL Trophy challenges

From the official Chelsea FC website:

Mark Robinson knows full well his Under-21s side will face stern physical and mental tests in this season’s EFL Trophy. Yet his excitement ahead of our opener at MK Dons tomorrow evening is palpable.

Chelsea performed well in the competition under Robinson last term. We topped a group that included League One side Oxford United and Leyton Orient, who ended the campaign as League Two champions.

Our progress was halted in the Round of 16 by Cheltenham Town, although several key players were absent having been selected in the first-team squad that travelled to Abu Dhabi during the World Cup.

Tomorrow evening’s encounter at Stadium MK will not be an easy one for our Under-21s. MK Dons have started their League Two campaign impressively and sit top of the table after five matches.

The challenge must be risen to.

‘It’s a great competition,’ says Robinson after overseeing training on Monday morning.

‘Being a younger side, we’re trying to prepare players for men’s football. So seeing how the lads cope with a very different challenge to their normal games programme, I find very exciting.

‘We did really, really well last season; some of our best performances were in the competition against good League One sides.

‘This year, we’re going to have a younger side. So the physical challenge will be tough, especially at set-pieces and corners. So we have to try to overcome that and then put our stamp on the game with our football.

‘Hopefully, we can do that and get a result, but it’s great for the lads to come up against good standard men sides and seeing the behaviours you need at that level.

‘We’re big on the boys having these relentless behaviours to get results. So we are looking forward to seeing if they can carry that out.’

The majority of players involved for MK Dons tomorrow evening will be senior professionals with Football League experience. There will be an inevitable physical mismatch to overcome for Chelsea.

But Robinson also highlighted the mental battle his players will face; they must implement their game plan rather than having the match dictated by the opposition.

‘Naturally, you want to compete as much as you can physically,’ explains Robinson, ‘but what we want is for the lads to be comfortable on the ball and play our football.

‘That can admittedly be a really tough mental challenge for them in these matches but to overcome that and potentially win the match, psychologically that can be a real boost for the lads.’





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