One way or another, Frank Lampard has had a significant influence on Ross Barkley for many years now.
Nobody else can say they have grown up watching Lampard on television, then played alongside him in an England shirt, and now continue to learn off him in his role as Chelsea boss. That they share the same positions has only added to the longstanding connection, which Barkley has spoken about ahead of our meeting with Brighton today.
‘As a young lad I would watch Match of the Day on a Sunday morning and then go off to my games for Everton,’ he said.
‘I’d see the likes of Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard banging the goals in every week. Lampard was one of my idols, because as a young midfielder I would see the goals he was scoring or creating every week and look up to him.
‘I played with the manager later on in his career with England and you could see how motivated he was. It was hard work all the time, running after training, non-stop movement to receive the ball, scoring goals. As a young player seeing that it affects you. You want to do the same things.
‘He's taken that into his management. We work really hard and then on the right days we ease off and feel really good for the games.
‘I’ve been loving it,’ added Barkley of current life under Lampard.
‘I’ve been in and out of the side, so I’m staying positive and focusing on helping the team out. Training is going really well with the mix of younger players and experienced players. You can see with the hard work we’re putting in in training we’re going to be a very good side. It’s looking really good and it bodes well for the team.’
At 25 Barkley is by no means one of our older players, but he has plenty of experience to call upon and is using that to help guide the young stars breaking through under Lampard. Billy Gilmour cited Barkley’s influence on Wednesday as being significant during his full debut.
The fresh impetus provided by the Academy graduates, as well as the return to fitness of Callum Hudson-Odoi, are the main reasons Barkley reveals a ‘real buzz around the place’ this week.
‘Everyone is positive and confident after the goals were shared out amongst the team,’ he says of the big win over Grimsby.
‘The young lads have done really well for England and Chelsea youth teams over the years, winning trophies. They have got the winning mentality this club needs.
‘For them to come into the side at such a young age and do so well, it’s great times for the club, the fans and the future as well.
‘I’m not surprised at how they’ve done, because you can see the quality they have got. Some were out on loan and proved to the manager and his assistant, Jody Morris who has worked with the younger lads, what they’re capable of. It’s the perfect timing for the young lads to show what they can do, and they have done that since the start of the season.’
One young player primed to start having a major impact on our season is Callum Hudson-Odoi, who returned to action in the win over Grimsby after five months out. Barkley is excited to play alongside the 18-year-old once again.
‘Last season he was growing with the minutes he was getting, and the goals he was getting. The more he was on the pitch you could see he was getting better and better.
‘He had a little setback but now he’s back and looking extra sharp. He has been putting the extra yards in in training. On Wednesday he was a bit frustrated because he could have had a hat-trick, but it was good to see him back playing the full 90 and scoring as well.’