Young players have 'a road' to the first team at Chelsea

Frank Lampard joking with Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic, whom the club have bought from Real Madrid following his year-long loan.
Frank Lampard joking with Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic, whom the club have bought from Real Madrid following his year-long loan.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Chelsea are facing a transfer ban, but new manager Frank Lampard is confident the Premier League club do not need to bring in new players to taste success.

The former England midfielder, who is the club's record scorer with 211 goals, was appointed the Blues' new manager earlier this month.

With Chelsea unable to add new players to their squad following a Fifa ban, Lampard has been tasked with improving the players he inherited from predecessor Maurizio Sarri as well as promoting young players from the club's academy.

Speaking shortly after arriving in Yokohama on Tuesday for the Japan leg of the club's pre-season tour, Lampard said he was impressed with the attitude of his new charges.

"I think I have inherited very good players," he said ahead of a friendly against Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale tomorrow.

"We can't bring in any new players, but I don't need new players. I am very happy with the squad.

"I have my own way that I want to work with the players and in the one week we have been training, I have been very happy with the attitude and the qualities of the players."

The clash with Kawasaki will be the third game of Lampard's tenure, with Chelsea having secured a win and a draw in two pre-season matches in Ireland last week.

Lampard will be assisted at Stamford Bridge by former academy coach Jody Morris and the pair are expected to utilise many of the players who have come through the youth team and have flourished on loan at other clubs.

Lampard worked with Mason Mount while he was on loan at second-tier Derby last season and the 20-year-old midfielder signed a new five-year contract on Monday.

He could form a young, English core along with striker Tammy Abraham, who spent last term on loan at Aston Villa, and midfielders Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi - a prospect that Chelsea fans have welcomed.

However, Lampard, who made 648 appearances for Chelsea from 2001-2014, warned his young players that the hard work has just started for a starting place in his team.

"To be clear, they now have to make the difference," he said.

"It is a road, a pathway that is given to them and now, they have to be the ones that play well enough to get into the team.

"I don't care about age, I just care about performance and how people train and play. Now it is up to those young players to show what they can do."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2019, with the headline 'Young players have 'a road' to the first team at Chelsea'. Print Edition | Subscribe