John Terry says Chelsea youngsters shining under Guus Hiddink
LONDON -- John Terry says he is encouraged by the progress of Chelsea's youngsters under interim manager Guus Hiddink and is hopeful that the club will soon start to reap the benefits of their dominant academy.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has made five substitute appearances in all competitions since Hiddink succeeded Jose Mourinho in December, while fellow youngsters Bertrand Traore and Kenedy have scored in the Premier League and under-18 captain Jake Clarke-Salter is now training with the first team.
Terry remains the last home-grown product to establish himself as a key first-team player, despite Chelsea's academy winning the FA Youth Cup in four of the last six seasons as well as the 2015 UEFA Youth League and the 2014 Under-21 Premier League titles.
But Terry believes that the progress of Kenedy and Traore -- who scored the opening goal in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday -- combined with the minutes afforded to Loftus-Cheek highlight that youth development is still alive and well at Chelsea.
"It's great to see because Chelsea have come under criticism in the past for not bringing enough through," Terry told reporters at the London Football Awards, where he accepted a prize for his "Outstanding Contribution" to London football.
"But the manager's showing that he's got faith in the younger players. He's rotating in some big games to give the young boys a chance, and more importantly for me they've come on and done great as well, which not only helps their cause but also the younger players as well because it gives them belief that within the Chelsea dressing room there is still hope for the academy.
"I watch all the games. I've watched the under-10s, 12s, 15s, the youth team, the reserve team, and we're doing great. We've done great in the [UEFA] Youth League and we won it last year, so the quality is there within the academy.
"There's been a lot of investment in the academy so not only do the players want to come through, the owner wants to see it as well. We're slowly starting to see that."
Terry is battling to be fit in time for the second leg of Chelsea's Champions League round of 16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain. The Blues lost 2-1 at Parc des Princes last month but the 35-year-old insists his team still stand a good chance of advancing to the last eight of the competition.
"We've come back from worse results in the past," he added. "With it at 2-1 we still obviously have a great chance at home. Those nights at the Bridge are unbelievable, so let's just how it's another big night and we can progress.
"We went out to them last year but it's not about revenge at all, it's about progressing to the next stage of the competition and we have players who are hungry and have had a lot of disappointments in the competition that want to go further.
"It's going to be a good game. They're a good side as well, they showed that in the first leg, but hopefully we'll have enough to go through."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.