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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Chelsea ready for Milk Cup debut
Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers is head of the youth academy at Chelsea
English Premiership champions Chelsea are to send a team to the NI Milk Cup youth tournament for the first time.

The famous London club will have a side in the Premier section for Under-16s.

The driving force behind Chelsea's appearance is Brendan Rodgers, head of the club's youth academy, who played in the event as a teenager.

"I reckoned Chelsea should be giving some of their best young players the opportunity to compete against teams from all over the world," said Rodgers.

Carnlough man Rodgers played in the competition three times for Ballymena in the 1980s.

Although Chelsea have not been before, current stars Damien Duff and Joe Cole have sampled the Milk Cup atmosphere.

Cole is the only person to win the player of the tournament award two years in succession when he was with West Ham in 1995 and 1996.

The draw for the 2005 competition will be staged in Belfast on Tuesday 17 May with the competition itself running from 1-5 August in the Coleraine, Ballymoney, Limavady and Ballymena Council areas.

Interview: Brendan Rodgers of Chelsea youth academy

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