Calum Chambers says extra training sessions with former England international Scott Parker are helping him to adapt to life in Fulham’s midfield.
The 24-year-old moved to Craven Cottage on a season-long loan in the summer with a view to gaining more Premier League experience as a central defender but since November has featured consistently as a holding midfielder.
While not a complete novice as a midfield anchor – Arsene Wenger fielded him there a couple of times during the 2014/15 season – playing 13 games in the role for Claudio Ranieri, and impressing, suggests this season’s experiment may not be a flash in the pan.
Reflecting on his adaptation, Chambers admitted that he’s benefitted from the expertise of Parker – now on Fulham’s training staff after ending his career there in 2017 – and that he’s enjoying the newfound responsibility.
“He [Parker] has been a big help,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s the little details. We do drills after training together just to work on my body shape when receiving the ball and turning with the ball. It is the one-touch play and stuff like that.
“To be honest, it has been enjoyable,” he added. “As each game comes and goes I am feeling more comfortable. I am getting used to seeing these pictures and when scenarios come along in games I already know the picture because I have seen it before so I know where to play the ball. My touch has already improved massively and my vision as well.
“The Premier League is quick anyway but to go from centre-half, where everything is in front of you, is a massive difference. You have got to be swivelling 360 all the time so that’s been the thing I have had to get used to the most, playing on the turn and having a picture in your head of what’s around you. It definitely sharpens you up and improves you.”
In a recent Arsecast [full transcript, here], the BBC’s David Ornstein revealed that Arsenal weighed up prematurely ending Chambers’ loan at Fulham during January’s defensive injury crisis. In the end, it was decided that the costs associated with the decision were too big to bother.
Quite what Chambers’ long-term future holds is up for debate. Handing him a four-year contract extension last summer was a big show of faith in his ability but it also protected his value. As a versatile, young English talent, a sale at the end of the season could well unlock cash for us to invest elsewhere.