Position: Central Midfield
Date of Birth: April 6th 1990
Place of Birth: York, England
Previous Club(s): Leeds United
When he made his Chelsea debut against Macclesfield in the FA Cup in January 2007 aged 16 years and 275 days, Michael Woods became Chelsea’s fourth youngest player ever. To followers of the youth team and in particular the saga regarding his signing, this wasn’t a surprise.
Woods joined from Leeds United with team-mate Tom Taiwo, much to the chagrin of former Chelsea owner Ken Bates, Chairman of Leeds at the time. Chelsea were accused of tapping-up, and eventually a deal was struck whereby £2.5m per player was paid to Leeds.
It could turn out to be a bargain. Woods is one of the most mature youngsters in the game both on and off the pitch. He speaks confidently and with sharp insight about the game, and this attitude is reflected on the pitch, where he’s adapted from being an all-out attacking midfielder to a responsible player who can play in central or defensive midfield just as capably.
His two FA Cup appearances (a second followed against Nottm Forest) are the highlight of his Blues career to date, along with being an ever-present in the run to the FA Youth Cup Final. Firmly entrenched in the Reserve team at the age of 17, his first season aged 18 (08/09) and the third of his scholarship should be a football league loan or perhaps more ambitiously a semi-regular place in Chelsea’s first team squad. He’s been there before, he now wants to get back there.
Michael’s season peaked in September and went downhill from there. He started the Reserve season on fire, scoring in both the opening fixtures as a super-sub, having injured his thigh in pre-season. He settled into the midfield again, continuing to learn a more defensive role, but with the lack of Reserve team fixtures in England, really stagnated. A loan move to Scunthorpe ended up falling through, and at the turn of the year he suffered what appeared to be a ‘normal’ knee injury but ended up with damaged nerves which ended his season. He’ll turn 19 before he returns, and could really do with regular football to get back on track.