Southampton V Chelsea at St. Mary's Stadium : Match Preview
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Cork not bitter over lack of chance at Chelsea
Chelsea academy graduate Jack Cork can understand his former club's reluctance to blood young talent - but believes it could cost them in the long run.
Like so many others, the midfielder, who joined the Blues aged nine, impressed in the youth and reserve teams but never got a chance in the first team.
Cork was instead farmed out to six different clubs on loan before permanently leaving Chelsea to link up with Southampton two years ago.
The 23-year-old will line up against his boyhood club at the end of a week in which Frank Arnesen, the Blues' former chief scout and director of youth development, accused the west Londoners of failing to give youngsters like Cork a chance.
"We had quite a good team, especially when Frank was there and Brendan Rodgers was doing the youth and reserve teams," Saints midfielder Cork said.
"We had a good set of young players that have all gone onto play quite a high standard now so it would have been interesting to see where they would be if they had been given a chance.
"But at the same time, that was a time when Chelsea were doing really well in every competition they were involved in so I can understand why nobody was really given a chance."
That lack of opportunity meant a number of players slipped through the net, with the likes of Fabio Borini, Miroslav Stoch and Nemanja Matic flourishing only after leaving Stamford Bridge.
It has also delayed the development of some players, with Josh McEachran this week admitting his career had stalled before his season-long loan to Middlesbrough.
"You could say Josh is in the same position I was in and is playing his games," Cork said.
"It is frustrating when you're at a club like that and hope to play for them and you sort of wish you would be there.
"In reality, it is always going to be hard with the managers coming in and changing. There is always a lot of pressure on them so it is always going to be hard to blood in the youngsters.
"I can understand what Josh is saying, but you get some great experiences being around some of the best players in the world."
Southampton trio Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Jos Hooiveld are all dealing with knocks and will be assessed, although manager Mauricio Pochettino hopes they will all be fit to feature.
Vegard Forren could make his Saints debut having started Norway's World Cup qualifier against Albania.
Petr Cech has warned Chelsea that Southampton are the most dangerous they have been all season following the arrival of Pochettino.
Chelsea thumped Southampton 5-1 at St Mary's Stadium in the FA Cup in January but less than two weeks later they blew a two-goal lead as the Saints claimed a point at Stamford Bridge.
That proved to be Nigel Adkins' last day in the charge of Southampton and Cech has been impressed by the improvements Pochettino has made since his arrival.
The Chelsea keeper insisted the Blues cannot head to the south coast expecting another rout.
"In football, everything is different - you can have a first half that is completely different from the second half," Cech told cfc.com
"In the away game against Southampton we were very effective, taking our chances, and then at home we had a very good half - but the last half an hour of the game we allowed them to come back into it.
"You cannot do that in the Premier League.
"The teams are strong enough to grab the chance if you give it to them - everyone in the Premier League has that quality and will take it if you let them.
"They changed manager with Pochettino and they are more attacking, more organised with very good pressing which makes them more aggressive - and, in turn, more confident because of the success they've been having."
John Terry is available to manager Rafael Benitez - but his selection will be made with one eye on Monday's FA Cup quarter-final replay against Manchester United.
Benitez said it is "impossible" for players to peak twice in 48 hours so some rotation of the side is inevitable and Terry, after a season disrupted by a knee injury, is only likely to start one of them.
Chelsea's interim manager reported a clean bill of health following the international break and he is hopeful that Ramires (Achilles) and Gary Cahill (knee) could be fit for Monday.
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