LONDON (Reuters) – Frank Lampard says he will have no fear giving his Chelsea youngsters their chance to make an impact at Stamford Bridge this season.
Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer begins his managerial reign at the club on Sunday away to Manchester United in the Premier League and it would be no surprise if his team includes the likes of Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount.
While Chelsea’s transfer ban and the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid means Lampard’s task is a sizeable one, the former midfielder believes it is an opportunity for the club to push through youth.
Midfielder Mount, 20, striker Abraham, 21, and defender Tomori, also 21, were all on loan at Championship club Derby County last season when Lampard cut his teeth in management and almost got the Rams promoted.
Had Chelsea been able to make new signings the chances are they may have been farmed out again. Instead they are integral to Lampard’s plans.
“Last year was a great experience working with them because they are hungry, they want to learn, they ask questions on the training pitch and I love that,” Lampard told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I understand the position we are in with the ban. It brings up different possibilities, albeit it’s tough in a way, it’s also an opportunity for the young lads to prove that they are good enough to get into the first team.
“I want to be competitive and want us to win, so it won’t be all about how many young players I can get in the team.
“But if they show themselves in training I will have no fear in putting them in.”
While expectation levels at Chelsea are lower this year, Lampard says the target is still to challenge for the title, although finishing in the top four again would be seen as success for his first season in charge.
“Its a hard one,” he said. “Chelsea are normally in the title race to some degree. It’s getting harder particularly with the standards set by (Manchester) City and Liverpool last year, we understand there is a gap to the rest of us.
“But I can’t start a season at Chelsea saying I don’t want to win the league. We have to have that mindset. We have to have that mentality and we’ll do our best to be right up there.”
The sale of centre back David Luiz to Arsenal on Thursday also opens up possibilities for other players, Lampard said.
“He was a great servant for the club,” added the 41-year-old, who was a team mate of Luiz when they won the Champions League in 2012.
“But I have got confidence in the players we have. We are well stocked in that area. We have internationals like (Antonio) Rudiger, (Kurt) Zouma, (Andreas) Christensen. We wish David all the best, even though he went to Arsenal.
“We’ll concentrate on ourselves and let’s see some of those players who haven’t had as much game time as they want but who are now relatively experienced players show that they can do.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)