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The Chelsea bench will bear the weight of the usual collection of internationals and multimillionaires this season but there could also be room for more unfamiliar names desperate to carve out their own reputations.

With seven substitutes now permitted to strip for action and new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari declaring his intent to promote the club's young talent, Roman Abramovich's dream of seeing the Academy graduates challenging his stellar names may be moving closer.

Yesterday Scolari sent his assistant Carlos Pracidelli as well as Chief Scout Frank Arnesen to Aldershot for their first warm-up fixture to run the rule over a mix of reserve and youth team players who claimed a 2-2 draw with the Football League newcomers. Among those who took the opportunity to impress were Gael Kakuta, who only turned 17 last month and who looked to have given his team victory seven minutes from time by squeezing out a clever finish while under pressure from defenders.

Kakuta, named Academy scholar of the year and who helped France to the Under-17 European Championship final, was praised by reserve team manager Brendan Rodgers afterwards. "He's a terrific boy and there are one or two others just as good but obviously it's difficult to get into a world-class group of players like we have at Chelsea," said Rodgers.

"The new manager is interested in these youngsters and wished us good luck before we left. It's a long process for the boys but it's a good process for them." Miroslav Stoch, an 18-year-old with Under-21 representative honours for Slovakia, gave Chelsea a first-half lead but his injury after the break forced them to finish the game with 10 men.

Despite the best efforts of defender Liam Bridcutt who spent the latter part of last season on loan at Yeovil, Aldershot twice plundered equalisers though they also missed a penalty late on.
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