HE’S barely old enough to shave, and he’d have broken the law if he’d celebrated with a beer after the game, but Lewis Hall – given his debut for Chelsea in the FA Cup 3rd Round against Chesterfield – made a dazzling first appearance in the senior team. Tom Tuchel, Blues manager, did his best to downplay excitement after the thoroughly professional 5-1 victory at the Bridge, but there was no disguising his pleasure at the 17-year-old’s successful debut outing.

A promising left-sided defender/midfielder has suddenly appeared from the junior ranks just as Ben Chilwell has been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury. Hallelujah for Chelsea’s active and productive academy! At 17 years and 122 days, he overtook Ethan Ampadu as the Blues’ record youngest FA Cup starting debutant… and will now be catapulted into contention for the first team in this Covid, African tournament and injury-hit season.

All that was missing from the teenager was a goal as Chelsea dismantled their non-league opponents in the first half then (reshuffled to allow all five subs to be used) sat back a little in the second. But he came close to scoring, placing himself in the right positions to capitalise on potential rebounds and half-chances.

He may be called on to help from the bench in this weekend's crunch tie at Man City, when the league leaders look to do the double over Chelsea. Tuchel doesn't fully trust the ball skills of Marcos Alonso... the manager's frustration all too obvious in the technical area if the Spaniard loses possession or fumbles a cross.

Although Hall clearly needs time to develop, he already has the calm assurance of a seasoned pro, and his progress will be keenly watched by fans (and by the managers of rival teams).

Though the young shaver suffered a bout of cramp towards the end of his debut game, he soldiered on, winning the admiration of the manager. “It was his performance in general, his attitude in training and the quality he showed,” said Tuchel when asked what had impressed him most. “He was very calm and he deserved to start. We needed a pause for Toni [Rudiger] and Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] and Marcos [Alonso] in defence. We had three defenders left and he was one of them.”