Belfast Telegraph

Chalobah set for return to Chelsea

England Under-21 international Nathaniel Chalobah looks destined to return to Chelsea when his loan at Burnley expires next month after Sean Dyche suggested the 19-year-old may be finding it difficult to adapt to the top flight.

Chalobah arrived at Turf Moor on transfer deadline day hoping to impress Blues boss Jose Mourinho and show he could break the mould by being a Chelsea academy product worthy of regular first-team consideration.

But in the week that 18-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek's senior debut earned so much attention, a man who once made the Chelsea bench at 15 is struggling to build on the early hype which surrounded him.

Chalobah is yet to start a game under Dyche and has played just 66 minutes in total, 45 of which came in the 4-0 drubbing at West Brom.

He has played no part in the Clarets' last five games and after confirming there is no injury concern over Chalobah, Dyche admitted the Barclays Premier League's unforgiving nature has limited the teenager's opportunities.

"He's a young player learning, earning his spurs and developing, and this is a tough league to do all those things in and do them every week," said the Clarets manager.

"Behind the scenes he's working hard and should he get his chance, he'll be ready to take it."

Yet when asked whether Chalobah would be returning to Stamford Bridge when his loan culminates in January, Dyche simply replied: "We'll wait and see. We'll stumble across that bridge when we have to."

Chalobah's England Under-21 team-mate Michael Keane has made more of an impression during his loan stay, though.

The Manchester United defender initially had to bide his time to break into the line-up but, with Michael Duff sidelined by a calf injury, Keane has now started three games in a row.

However, while Dyche may be interested in extending Keane's stay beyond January, the injury crisis which has blighted his parent club could mean Louis van Gaal is reluctant to agree to such terms.

"For a young man going into the Premier League he's done well and I thought he was very good at QPR," Dyche added.

"With Duffo - he's done well this season - so it was a case of picking on form. Now Keano comes in and he's done well, so it will be interesting when we've got everyone fit."

It is in central midfield, Chalobah's usual position, that Dyche has pinpointed as an area he will target when the transfer window opens up again.

The likes of Henri Lansbury and Craig Bryson were linked with the Clarets over the summer but both signed new deals at their respective clubs and Dyche is ready to go looking for another midfield maestro.

"We're looking to strengthen with the right players," he said.

"There's certain areas that we possibly need to build further than others. We've not got great depth in central midfield.

"It's supply and demand, availability of players and the ones that fit the team but also the financial model of the club.

"There will be finance, we know that, but we've already seen the finance involved in the Premier League is considerable and it's how far the club want to go towards affecting the situation, if and when the right player comes available."

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