There were 28 players involved in pre-season training at Chelsea on Monday as the preparations for the 2021/22 campaign kicked up a gear for Thomas Tuchel, his players and his staff.
All of the non-international players were back on Monday, though the absence of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ross Barkley from the official photos of the session was noted.
Along with a host of youngsters, there were some senior players returning from loan spells away last season to boost the numbers and to give Tuchel the chance to cast his eye over them.
Davide Zappacosta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Drinkwater, Malang Sarr, Conor Gallagher, Armando Broja and Trevoh Chalobah were all among the players returning to the training ground.
Senior stars who have the summer off were also back. Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech, Marcos Alonso, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi among them.
Those players who were away with the country will have an uninterrupted three-week break after their exertions at the Euro 2020 championships and Copa America, in the case of Thiago Silva, before they will see Tuchel again.
It has been quiet so far on the transfer front for the Blues with only departures making the headlines, that of Fikayo Tomori departing permanently to AC Milan for £25million.
So heading into the first pre-season friendly, expected to be in Ireland against a local League of Ireland side in the not too distant future, there will be a crop of players who could be auditioning for a spot in Tuchel’s final 25-man Premier League squad.
Here, we take a look at three of those players who are slightly on the outside looking in, hoping for a spot for the big kick off on August 14.
It is a big summer for the Chelsea midfielder, who had a rather middling loan spell at Fulham last season which ended in the Cottagers being relegated back to the Championship.
RLC is determined to prove himself to Thomas Tuchel in pre-season to give him a place in the Blues’ Premier League squad, something the midfielder craves.
After suffering his devastating achilles injury in a post-season friendly in 2019 that ruled him out of the Europa League final, Loftus-Cheek may well be in the midst of his last chance to make it as a regular at Chelsea for the future.
Likewise Loftus-Cheek, it could be now or never for Ross Barkley, who also didn’t set the world alight while on loan last season as Aston Villa.
Barkley was back on the Cobham training pitches on Tuesday but hasn’t really hit the heights that was expected of him when he made his belated £15million move from Everton in 2018.
Three years later, Barkley’s career has stalled once again and he faces an important few weeks in pre-season to keep his name in the frame for the European Champions’ squad for 2021/22.
In very different circumstances than the other two players mentioned, Abraham was a part of the Blues first team last season but he badly struggled for minutes under Tuchel.
The head coach twice haukled him off at half time having started games and he only played 17 minutes of Premier League football between February 28 and the end of the campaign in May.
Abraham has been strongly linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer but as it stands, he has some time to prove to Tuchel he can be the answer in a striking department that sorely lacked goals in the second half of last season after the German took over.