Pep Clotet Must Manage Jude Bellingham Sensibly This Season

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for Jude Bellingham. The 16-year old became our club’s youngest ever player and goalscorer within the space of 30 days, and also recently captained the England Under-17s at the Skyrenka Cup in Poland during the international break. He also netted the only goal of the game against Charlton helping the Blues to clinch victory at the Valley. The Stourbridge-born midfielder’s stock is clearly rising, and head coach Pep Clotet must ensure that the talented teenager doesn’t suffer from fatigue over the next few months.

Prior to the Charlton fixture, Clotet promised not to ‘overburden’ Bellingham, and spoke in his press conference at about his duty to protect the midfielder. Fans understandably become excited about the prospect of a young player breaking into the first-team squad, and following his recent exploits, many will be expecting to see the teenager become a regular starter this campaign. However, the Spaniard is adamant that he will be using Bellingham sparingly during the first half of the season.

Blues have a number of young players in the squad with the likes of Wes Harding, Steve Seddon and Ivan Sunjic all featuring so far this year. However, all three of them have significantly more experience of first-team football and are currently in their early 20s. There’s also ample experience in the camp with the likes of Craig Gardner, Jefferson Montero and Lukas Jutkiewicz giving the team some much-needed seniority.

In August 2019, CNN produced a report suggesting that young football players are suffering from burnout. Some stars will play up to 80 games in the space of twelve months which is having a detrimental effect on their recovery time. Spurs’ striker Son Heung Min was cited as an example of a player who racked up 70,000 miles and featured in 78 matches last year. Despite his packed schedule, he still provides plenty of energy and is a fans favourite in North London. He’s also popular with Fantasy Football enthusiasts, and players can now pick their dream team and win cash on a daily basis with Paddy Power’s new Fantasy game which is available at Paddy Power.

Bellingham is highly unlikely to match Son Heung Min’s total minutes on the pitch last year, yet the Blues coaching staff must still ensure that the 16-year old isn’t overworked. At such a young age, recovery time is generally quicker, however, Blues wouldn’t want to risk losing him to a season-ending injury. Clotet described the match against rock-bottom Stoke City as the “right game for him”, and fans will certainly be hoping that they get to see plenty more of the academy graduate over the next few months.

The first team will play five Championship games in both October and November, before a bumper festive fixture list requires them to play seven matches in the space of 24 days. The coach will almost certainly look to utilise his squad during this busy Christmas period, and Bellingham is likely to feature heavily during this exhaustive spell.

There is plenty of excitement around the club about the latest in a long line of impressive young players to break through. However, patience will be key to Jude Bellingham’s development, and Pep Clotet must ensure he doesn’t overwork this hugely promising prospect over the coming months.

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