BILLY Knott admitted he didn’t grow up fast enough to make the grade at Chelsea.

The City midfielder was with the Blues academy for five years but was released at 16.

He said: “I probably only realised later when I went to Sunderland that you need to mature quickly in this game.

“It was such a big chance but you only realise that when you look back, like when I was at Woking and playing on dodgy pitches.

"I really enjoyed the technical side at Chelsea and I learned a lot from the players and coaching staff, so I am thankful for that. But it was a long time ago now.”

Carlo Ancelotti was Chelsea manager at the time and none of Knott’s peer group have gone on to nail down a first-team spot there.

“Our group included me, Josh McEachran, who is at Vitesse Arnhem at the moment, and Billy Clifford, who is struggling at the moment for a club - but he is a very good player.

"George Saville has gone to Bristol City, Milan Lalkovic is in Slovakia, Gokhan Toure’s at Bekistas and Jeffrey Bruma is in the PSV first team and is probably doing the best. We had a great team.

“They do buy a lot of players and that is why they are the best. They are changing it a little bit now, sending the likes of Lew Baker and Nathaniel Chalobah out earlier than what they sent us boys out.

"They are young English boys with real quality. I think they were two years younger than me.”

Knott, who scored in both ties against Millwall in the last round, can expect his usual strong backing from home and a coach of family and friends is coming from Essex.

He added: “I was texting my mates and said it was Chelsea or West Ham I wanted (in the draw). When it came through, I was with my girlfriend indoors and I did have a little cheer.

"I think everyone is ruling us out. Chelsea are top dogs at the moment but we’ll stick together as a team and hopefully we can cause a big upset.”