Following his return to the team in the most recent game, the timing couldn’t be better to talk to the versatile youngster about how he sees his season…
When you add players, it’s not a gift. Players have to earn it. If he does like Lewis Hall, who has done well, he will have a place.’
These were the words of Frank Lampard after the weekend game against Nottingham Forest, where Hall was handed his first action for the men’s team since January. The 18-year-old finished 90 minutes on the left-hand side and wouldn’t argue that plenty of hard work has gone into getting another chance to showcase his potential.
Last season, Hall announced himself to the Stamford Bridge crowd in the FA Cup win over Chesterfield.
That promising debut has been built upon this campaign, with Hall making a further eight appearances, six of which have come in the Premier League. When he is used, he tends to be a beginner; The teenager has only come on as a substitute once.
’It definitely feels like a season of progress, especially between the start of the season and January,’ outlines Hall, speaking to us exclusively at Cobham.
’I feel like I’ve taken a big step. Everything was going well and I was performing in shows that I was very happy with. Obviously, I was working hard in training and I was good with the Under-23s; I was able to score and get assists.
’Then when you get opportunities to train with the first team and keep doing well, it’s a nice feeling. I waited for my chance and when I did I took it. And then it’s about keeping that momentum. But against Liverpool, it wasn’t one of my best games.’
The trip proved to be Hall’s last involvement until he returned to the bench at Bournemouth. However, an injury to Ben Chilwell on South Coast, and the departure of Mark Gugurella, opened the way for his place in the starting side for the Forest game. He was chosen over other options.
The game saw Hall fielded in his preferred central midfield role – away from Anfield – and he was unhappy with his own performance. His long-term ambition is to make a position his own, but is ready to step in at left-back, left wing-back or on the left of a back when needed.
„It’s good to have that diversity, so when the manager needs an option, it gives you an advantage in being selected,” he says.
What has been clear from Hall’s senior appearances so far is that it doesn’t matter where he plays on the pitch, he finds ways to threaten the opposition’s goal.
His standout moment against Forest at the Bridge on Saturday was a storming run and cross that led to Joao Felix’s header, but he managed just one shot in eight this season. In the Carabao Cup game at Manchester City, he came closest to scoring by any Chelsea player.
’I feel my positioning and awareness to get into the box and the timing of my runs is very disciplined,’ he explains.
’It’s really the finishing touch. I have been practicing my finish every day in training for the past two months. Even with simple results, just keep doing it for weeks and weeks and try to improve it. One day, I hope to achieve my first goal.
’I definitely feel I should have scored more than one if I’m honest. I like to criticize myself for something that I am not good at. If I knew I was better than that, I like to tell myself.
’For example, in the City game, the two chances I had, I feel I scored in the Under-23s. Maybe it’s a bit of nerves or something like that, but I don’t think anything needs to change because it’s a big step. It naturally does but I am so self-critical.
It’s clear that Hall is a thoughtful young player and he considers other reasons why he finds it harder to score at senior level than on the academy side.
’I think keepers are the best. With the under-23s, they are all good keepers but they are still learning. Anything in the corners, if you get it right, is usually a goal. In the first team, when you get top keepers, you have to hit it with some power because their reflexes, the way they can stretch and dive and their anticipation, it’s elite level. You have to hit it hard precisely.’
Hall’s five goals for the development squad and under-19s this season included a run from a deep and low finish across goal in the UEFA Youth League against Salzburg, and a powerful winner against Oxford’s first team in the EFL Trophy. .
’I loved the Oxford goal because we won,’ he concludes. 'Salzburg is a different game; I think we should have won a lot more, but we drew. It was 0-0 when I scored, so it was a good goal, but the Oxford one, especially off the crossbar with my right foot, because it was late in the game as well.
’For me, the development squad season was really good. Rabo [Mark Robinson], the manager has helped me a lot. He is slightly different from other managers with some of the ideas and phrases he uses. At first everyone was a bit surprised, then he drilled it into us and after seven or eight games we clicked. We didn’t lose a game for months after that.
’We did well as a team, but in some games we couldn’t get ahead and that cost us the league in my opinion.’
Dev played 21 games for the side, helping them finish third in the Premier League 2 table, with Hall often training alongside senior players, leading them to Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup appearances this season.
St. James’s Park offered experiences at some of the biggest away stadiums, including Anfield and the Etihad.
’It’s a blur,’ admits Hall. 'We go out on the pitch and you know what you have to do, you know what the game plan is. I think if you think too much it can affect your game. I tried to stay calm and relax, then when I come on the pitch, try to focus and think properly, it’s 11 v 11, try to win the game.
’Of course you can hear people in the crowd and you try to avoid that as much as possible when you’re playing away from home. When you play at home, it’s easy to feel that it helps. You listen to the crowd, and it gives your team extra momentum and confidence.
’Leaving home is tricky. When we played City at the Etihad, the Chelsea fans made a lot of noise, but because they’re so high up, it’s hard to hear them, especially when the City fans are cheering the whole stadium.
’It was my second game and I remember I was going to take a corner, I’ve never had so much bat in my life, so many people shouting at me, and it shows you what the best players deal with. Good experience to gain.
’When we played the first City game and the Newcastle game – I know we lost both – I was really happy with the way I played. In a way I felt I deserved to be there. So the World Cup came at an unfortunate time, but I think that’s football really, there’s something for you and some you don’t.
’You have to work hard and put your mind to it. We traveled to Abu Dhabi while the World Cup was on and had a game against Villa. I didn’t really play the first few games after the World Cup, but I managed to get myself a game in the FA Cup and after that, I had a game and it was good.
Hall understandably sees his next goal as gaining regular experience in the senior team, but there are three games of the current season to be played before long-term ambitions. Another small run of games, including trips to the Etihad and Old Trafford as one of the 11 selected last time out, could mark a season of real breakthrough for the teenager.
„Całkowity introwertyk. Nieprzejednany specjalista od sieci. Przyjazny fanatyk bekonu. Student ekstremalnych. Miłośnik piwa. Organizator.”