Chelsea defender Ethan Ampadu is willing to play anywhere for Maurizio Sarri’s side in order to earn more first-team minutes.
The 18-year-old Wales international featured as a second-half substitute during the Blues’ 3-0 victory over Swedish side Malmo in the Europa League at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening.
Ampadu, who joined the club at the start the 2017/18 campaign after being signed as a 16-year-old from Exeter City has featured just five times competitively under Maurizio Sarri this season, three of those outings have been in European competition.
Despite naturally playing centrally as part of the defence or in midfield, Ampadu’s cameo saw him replace Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back for the final 11 minutes of the match, a role which he also adopted in his Europa League debut during the 4-0 victory over PAOK Salonika in November’s group stage and it is a challenge the teenager has not shied away from.
“I remember, I came on at right-back in the first game I played in the Europa League”, Ampadu recalled. “I am not massively used to it, but I have played there a little bit. I want to play anywhere I get asked to on the pitch.
“After any defeat, you want to come and bounce back with a win, no matter who it is against or in different competitions; it was just good to get the win.
“The win was the best thing, but to be able to come on, get some minutes in front of your home fans and more experience, that was also good.”
To date, Ampadu has fewer than 300 senior club minutes under his belt this term, having started in just three of his five matches, two of which were in FA Cup victories at home against sides in the Sky Bet Championship.
Because of his lack of minutes, Ampadu has recently featured for Joe Edwards’ under-23s side, a decision he took upon himself to continue to play football and develop his experience, including a starring role during a 1-0 win away at Derby County earlier this month.
Ampadu is grateful that he can drop down age groups when he feels he requires minutes, despite aspiring towards becoming a more frequent name in Sarri’s first-team plans.
The teenager explained: “I know in myself that I need to get minutes. My aim is to get minutes for the first-team, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll ask the question to the under-23s.
“I want to be a footballer, so I need to play football. I am thankful to Joe for letting me play.
“I think that is what any player tries to do when they train, they try and play well to show that they want to play football, so it is not just me, I think that is from everyone as well.”
His late appearance against Uwe Rosler’s side saw Ampadu make his 12th senior appearance for the Blues, just six more outings than the number of caps he has won for Ryan Giggs’ Wales side.
With Chelsea still competing in the Europa League, Carabao Cup and Premier League, Ampadu is targeting to play as many first-team minutes, as well as self-improvement between now and the end of the campaign.
“[I need] to keep training well,” Ampadu said. “I have still got a lot of things to improve on, so, to improve myself and see how many minutes I can get.”
By Jonty Colman at Stamford Bridge