Frank Lampard has confirmed Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James will be in the squad for the visit of Brighton tomorrow following their successful return to action in midweek, when the good work of our Academy was again evident for all to see.
James, Marc Guehi, Tino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen all made their Chelsea debuts in the 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby, while Billy Gilmour was given his first start and Hudson-Odoi was back in the team after five months out injured.
When you consider Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham were all unused substitutes having starred in the league this term, it’s no surprise Lampard believes the current crop of youngsters are the most talented since he has been at the club.
‘The fact we’re seeing the numbers of them in the first team speaks for itself,’ the boss said at his press conference today.
‘It’s a nice sign, it feels nice, we’re all happy at the club. They all seem comfortable, but there will be lots of things for them to learn fast. They’re confident lads, good players, they’ve been brought up the right way in a footballing sense and a life sense. They have every base needed but now it’s up to them.
‘As always with these things, even though the step into the first team feels like the hard one, it’s actually the easiest one. For me now the next step for them is sustaining, improving, and really showing at this level you are players capable of taking Chelsea to where we want to be.’
Lampard stressed the significance of helping those youngsters off the pitch
‘A huge part of my job is to work with the players, not just tactically, but in their minds. Of course with the younger players you want to pass on more knowledge, help, and be there for them in whatever way.
‘Sometimes it’s being tough. That’s my job to sense the right moment. I try and do that as much as I can. I want the players to know that’s there. In many ways, I am only as strong as the coaching staff we have.
‘Neil Bath and Jim Fraser in the Academy have got a lot of recognition this week which has been a long time coming, because their work has been going on for a lot of years. The good ethics of these players coming through is a huge credit to them. Now myself and us as staff have to continue that good work at this level.’
Tomorrow is a chance to pick up three points at Stamford Bridge for the first time under Lampard
‘The fact we haven’t won at home in the league is something we obviously want to correct. We need home wins. We were very unlucky last week against Liverpool, but that doesn’t help the points situation. We need a similar performance to Liverpool. If we get that level of performance, then I expect a home win to come very soon.
‘We must respect Brighton hugely. They are playing some very good football, a new manager, change of style, maybe not the points on the board they deserve. Each game has to be prepared for on its own merits, and having watched a lot of Brighton, and knowing a little bit about Graham Potter from last year, we have to be ready for anything.’
Lampard will decide on what involvement Hudson-Odoi has after his goalscoring return to action
‘I will be careful with Callum considering the type of injury he had, but that’s not to say he can’t play a major part in tomorrow’s game, or a slightly lesser one. I will have to see and pick the team on its merits with a bit of Callum’s injury situation in my mind.’
Lampard with the injury latest
Christian Pulisic has been less involved lately and Lampard was asked how the American is getting on
‘I have four wingers to choose from. They’re all fit. We all forget Christian has just turned 21 because of the price tag and because he’s come through from a very young age. It’s normal to expect an adaptation period.
‘He’s shown some really good moments, but what he has to do, as all the players have to, not just the wingers, is reach levels in training daily that make you sit up and go ‘here’s my team selection and that’s actually affected it, I have seen good stuff’. That’s the same for every player in the squad.
‘We must give Christian a bit of time to adapt because of his youth and the change of league and living. We support him hugely on that and his talent will come through.’