The Blues will have an unfamiliar squad and a much-changed one for their first friendly of pre-season, which looks set to be in Ireland.

Chelsea’s players are slowly beginning to return to pre-season training at Cobham after having a summer off – those who haven’t been away with their country, that is.

Tino Anjorin, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham were the first three players back through the Cobham doors to begin training on Friday, with Marcos Alonso joining them later in the day.

Players had been coming to the training ground for Covid-19 testing as early as Monday, while Thomas Tuchel didn’t return to Cobham until Thursday as he began his own pre-season plans.

The Blues are set to jet off to Ireland for a training camp but no date has been set for that, while two pre-season friendlies against Arsenal and Spurs as part of The Mind Series have been arranged for early August.

More players will begin filtering into the training ground over the coming days but those who were away with the country over the past month will not be back until late July/early August after their mandatory three-week uninterrupted holiday.

Chelsea are expected to have at least one friendly while they are in Ireland which is likely to be their first of the summer but their starting eleven will be shorn of many of their international stars, handing the opportunity for fringe players and others to get some minutes and to impress Tuchel.

But how could they line up for that first game? We have taken a very speculative – sorry – educated – guess.

Goalkeeper

Edouard Mendy will have had a full summer rest under his belt but is unlikely to play the first friendly, so that will hand Kepa a chance to get some minutes.

The Spanish stopper was called up to Spain’s “parallel squad” after Sergio Busquets tested positive for Covid-19 eight days before Euro 2020, with Kepa and five others called in just in case any Spanish players pulled out.

They didn’t and Kepa will have had a good rest so he’s likely to see some minutes. Willy Caballero has left the club so it could mean Jamie Cumming or Karlo Zigler also makes the trip.

Defence

Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta won’t be involved thanks to their Euro 2020 exploits so it could mean an opportunity for Tino Livramento to play at right back, or Dujon Sterling.Don’t forget the returning Davide Zappacosta, either.

At centre half, there will be no Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma or Antonio Rudiger. Ethan Ampadu may be a player that could get a start and perhaps Malang Sarr too, fresh off his loan spell at Porto. Marc Guehi could also be an option.

Marcos Alonso should also get some game time on the left with Ben Chilwell and Emerson not being involved.

Midfield

This will be an area that Tuchel can experiment with as Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Tiemoue Bakayoko should be available to the head coach for the first friendly.

Youngsters Conor Gallagher, Lewis Bate and Tino Anjorin will all be hoping to be included on the training camp and get some match action as well.

Christian Pulisic finished his campaign with a trip to the USA for a Nations League tournament which finished before the Euros got underway and it remains to be seen if he reports back earlier to join up.

Callum Hudson-Odoi will be linking up with the camp as well and should play.

Striker

Tammy Abraham is a certainty to go and after playing just 17 minutes in the Premier League under Tuchel since the last weekend of February, will be eager to impress.

Tuchel is likely to stick with the one central striker for the friendly as there aren’t that many other options for him, if truth be told as most were away with their country for the summer.

Armando Broja is expected to be given an opportunity to impress this summer as well so it could well be 45 minutes split between him and Abraham.

By Funfair

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