Fikayo Tomori featured during Derby's narrow 1-0 loss to Leeds United in the first leg of the semi-final, with all still to fight for at Elland Road on Wednesday evening.
Frank Lampard's lively side has Tomori to thank for being in touching distance of the Premier League, having made 53 appearances across all competitions thus earning the Derby Player of the Season award.
If Derby can overcome United, and one of Aston Villa or West Bromwich Albion at Wembley, there is the potential for Tomori to face his employers who let him leave on loan.
Having been brandished with a two-window Fifa transfer ban, the likelihood of Chelsea recalling a selection of their 41 man strong loanee army back to the Bridge increases by the day. Despite his standout campaign, Tomori admitted his re-addition as a Blue is far from a given.
"I think no matter what the situation is at Chelsea, it’s always going to be difficult to break in," Tomori told the Guardian, on returning to the club he joined at under-8 level.
"You have to be on top of your game all of the time to get in. Whatever the circumstances, it’s going to be difficult but you just have to try and do your best to make an impression."
Fikayo in fine company
As already stated, the breadth of talent that Chelsea have passed on stretches far and wide, yet a strong proportion have stayed put in England.
Including Tomori, three others received the same Player of the Season prize at their individual Championship clubs (Michael Hector at Sheffield Wednesday, Reece James at Wigan and Nathan Baxter at Yeovil).
Tammy Abraham has arguably been the standout soldier from the Blues brigade, netting 25 league goals for Villa, adding a crucial spot-kick in their recent playoff win against the Baggies.
Include fellow teammate Mason Mount, who earned a call-up to Gareth Southgate's senior Lion's selection in October, and Tomori is in good company with those attempting to catch Chelsea's eye.
In fact, Tomori revealed the WhatsApp group made up of the loan players is a consistent method of communicating with one another, saying, "Everyone congratulates each other when it’s their birthday and stuff like that. It keeps everyone connected so you don’t feel you’re isolated from the club."
With so many in contention for place in a Premier League squad, the 21-year old was aware he must focus on his own progression to be top of the pecking order.
"Chelsea has always produced good players. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for whatever reason. For yourself you’ve got to do well and show Chelsea how good you really are.”
Will Fikayo find a space?
It all whittles down to the decision of the Chelsea manager and whether they believe the character fits their system. Maurizio Sarri has utilised his younger players sparingly, Callum Hudson-Odoi the prime example.
This may deflect against Tomori's case, along with the fact Chelsea's defence hasn't been dented too often this year; only Liverpool (21) and Manchester City (20) kept more clean sheets than the Blues (16) in the league.
Centre-back is also not a position Chelsea are short of numbers in, with Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and David Luiz are all established in their own right, the latter recently signing a one-year extension on his contract. Throw Ethan Ampadu into the mix and the challenge for Tomori to break the mold increases.
He himself brought others into the equation, telling the Guardian, "There are players out on loan like Kurt Zouma, Jake Clarke-Salter as well, (Tomas) Kalas, so many great players in my position and everyone is vying for that same spot."
However, all is far from lost for the talented Tomori. His season alone for Derby puts him in good stead, but in an era dedicated to defenders being adept with the ball at their feet, his statistics speak volumes; only two central-defenders in the Championship attempted more passes than Tomori (2453 in total). Of his 21 attempted dribbles, 17 were successful, demonstrating the confidence that is often required at the top level.
Derby and Tomori may fall at the first hurdle in their race for the top division, yet the boy from Canada cannot count himself out of a sweet maple syrup reunion with Chelsea.