Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Abraham: I Can Buck the Trend and Make Grade at Chelsea; the Blues Do Not Have a Great Record with Young Players but 19-Year-Old Says He Has What It Takes. Vaishali Bhardwaj reportsEXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Abraham: I Can Buck the Trend and Make Grade at Chelsea; the Blues Do Not Have a Great Record with Young Players but 19-Year-Old Says He Has What It Takes. Vaishali Bhardwaj reportsEXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Vaishali Bhardwaj reports

WHEN Chelsea academy graduate Tammy Abraham received a phone call in July confirming his place in Antonio Conte's pre-season squad, the striker was understandably excited.

The 19-year-old had just returned from helping England reach the semifinals of the UEFA Under-19 Championship in Germany, and was now being given the unexpected chance to impress Chelsea's new manager.

Little did Abraham foresee how beneficial the trip to Austria and the United States would be.

"Conte looks interested in the youngsters and he spoke to me when I was on the pre-season tour," says Abraham, who scored 74 goals in 98 games for Chelsea's youth teams in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

"He gave me tactical advice. He told me the right areas to get into and how to adapt to different situations."

The advice is clearly paying off.

After spending pre-season with the first team, Abraham secured a seasonlong loan at Bristol City, where the striker has scored 13 goals in 26 appearances and was named the EFL Young Player of the Month for September.

He has made such progress at the Championship club that Conte told this paper in October he expects Abraham to be part of his long-term plans at Chelsea.

The club often send academy graduates on loan to gain experience of playing regular first-team football. In fact, Chelsea currently have a staggering 37 players plying their trade elsewhere. Patrick Bamford is one of those -- with the 23-year-old already on his sixth loan since joining Chelsea in 2012.

The striker was named Championship Player of the Year in 2015 for his prolific form at Middlesbrough but it was not enough to earn a recall to his parent club and he is now on loan at Burnley.

However, Conte has shown in his first six months at Chelsea he is prepared to give youth a chance -- with players 22-year-old Nathaniel Chalobah and Ola Aina, 20, being given their debuts this season. And that has given Abraham, who was handed his Chelsea debut by Guus Hiddink against Liverpool in May, hope he can buck the trend and break into the first team.

"Conte gives me that belief that when I go back to Chelsea, hopefully, he'll give me the chance," says Abraham at an event for EA Sports FIFA 17, The Journey. "It's very motivating for me to know you have that support and you have people who are aware of how well you are doing.

"It gives you confidence to go out there and give your 100 per cent.

Wherever you go there is always going to be that competition. It's about how you deal with it. When you give your best, you can't ask for more."

Back at Chelsea, Diego Costa has fired the Blues to the top of the Premier League. The Spain international is the Premier League's leading scorer with 13 goals, and has condemned PS33million striker Michy Batshuayi to a largely substitute role this season with his fine form. …

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