Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi can both contribute to the Chelsea cause in the coming weeks but it is their impact on the future that most excites Frank Lampard.
When he started our first game of the restart away at Aston Villa, it was a first competitive appearance in over a year for Loftus-Cheek and the 24-year-old has since featured on a further three occasions as a substitute. Meanwhile, Hudson-Odoi played the full 90 minutes in our FA Cup quarter-final victory at Leicester City before a 15-minute cameo against Watford at the weekend.
Lampard believes both can continue to contribute to the conclusion of the current 2019/20 campaign, with the Blues fighting to secure a top-four Premier League finish as well as success in the FA Cup. However, taking into account Loftus-Cheek’s long spell on the sidelines and the teenage youthfulness of Hudson-Odoi, the boss feels next season could be the stage on which the pair really shine.
‘Ruben literally played no games for a long time,’ said Lampard when asked about the duo at his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
‘Just before the lockdown period, we were trying to find him some games for him in the Under-23s if they were playing at the right time and so for Ruben I think this little period has been great for him to get fit.
‘He is pretty fit but the reality is next season will be the one, with another mini pre-season, that he’ll be really firing for and I’m really excited for those times. That’s not to say he won’t contribute now - he’s come off the bench and he may start some more games because he gives us something really different.’
Lampard cited the game-changing impact of Christian Pulisic and Willian since the restart as examples of the standards Hudson-Odoi needs to reach if he is to win a regular place in the starting line-up.
‘He really needs to work hard daily in training, do the right things daily and when he gets his opportunities, whether from the bench or to start, really show input in games and make a difference,' explained the boss.
‘We’re seeing at the moment what Pulisic and Willian are doing in and when Callum comes into the team or comes on, he has to show something similar.’
Regardless of their immediate prospects, Lampard is clear that the Academy graduates remain a firm part of his plans for next season and beyond.
‘They’re both young,’ he added. ‘I believe and trust in both of them and during this mini period, they can certainly make impacts in their own ways.’