BigStu: I've rated him as MF where he mostly plays nowdays, but he is naturally a CB, and should be given much higher DEF
Twenty year old Jack Cork is another member of the Chelsea youth academy with bags of potential and is most certainly one to watch for the future. Cork has been with the London clubs youth system since the age of nine, showing both that Chelsea have consistently rated him and also that he has developed well as a player whilst growing up at the club. He has both captained Chelsea’s youth side as well as representing England at under 19 level.
Cork boasts an attribute that is all too key in the modern game; versatility. The youngster is able to excel in a host of positions, including midfield, and is able to play anywhere along the backline. Cork proved this playing for Chelsea in the summer of 2007 in their pre-season tour of the United States, where he spent much of his time playing at left back.
Like many youth players, Cork has been given the opportunity to improve his game through loan spells at lower league clubs, and has learnt priceless experience in the process. In 2007-08, at just 18 years old, Cork spent a season on loan at Scunthorpe United, picking up the club’s Player of the Year award whilst there, a feat that speaks volumes about the youngsters’ potential.
Cork has also ventured on loan to Southampton, Watford and is currently on loan at the Ricoh Arena with the Sky Blues Coventry City. However Chelsea have again shown their faith and interest in Cork by recently tying him down to a three year contract, emphasising that he may have some role to play in the future set up of the squad. Cork has already made several appearances for the Sky Blues and is proving to play an important role in their squad; no doubt he will develop his game further whilst there under manager Chris Coleman.
For such a young player Cork already has a good understanding of the game. He has a good positional sense and can read the game, this coupled with his work ethic and his tackling means that he can perform well in either a midfield or defensive role. Whilst on loan with Watford, former player turned pundit Steve Claridge watched him played in a match against Reading and only had good things to say about the youngster. Claridge claimed that Cork was the only Watford player with any real time or space on the ball, so much so that Reading dropped one of their forwards back to stop him getting so much of the ball. He adds that he was deployed in a defensive midfield role and gave a mature performance for a young player, noting that he kept the ball moving and exhibited a good understanding of possession football.
It will be interesting to see what Cork’s next move is when he returns from his loan at Coventry City. As we are all aware, Chelsea are not the easiest team in the world for a youth player to break into. Cork’s future could lie at Stamford Bridge or it could lie elsewhere. Either way, expect big things from this youngster.