Mason Mount believes Chelsea’s youngsters were “undermined” by critics at the start of the campaign.
The 20-year-old midfielder has flourished under Frank Lampard, helping to take the Blues to third in the Premier League table.
Why were Chelsea youngsters “undermined”? Five things to know…
- Chelsea appointed club legend Lampard in the summer following the departure of Maurizio Sarri.
- Lampard was not allowed to sign players as per a two-window transfer embargo Chelsea are currently serving.
- As such, Mount believes critics had already written Chelsea off.
- However, he says Lampard set a target at the start of the season to compete at the top end of the table.
- Chelsea are currently third after 12 games and nine points ahead of fifth place.
Lampard has shown no qualms entrusting academy products to lead his side, with the likes of Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James all playing prominent roles this term.
On Saturday, Chelsea’s starting XI was the club’s youngest in Premier League history, while a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace ensured the Blues have now won six successive league matches for the first time since their 2016/17 title-winning season.
Mount has praised Lampard for showing tremendous faith in some of the club’s younger players, but he believes each has earned their places in the manager’s plans on merit alone rather than circumstance.
Chelsea have won six consecutive Premier League games in a row for the first time since May 2017 under Antonio Conte.
They won the title that season. 😉 pic.twitter.com/TfofbDwZeY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 9, 2019
“With all of us young boys, he (Lampard) has given us the chance to step up and prove that we are ready,” Mount said.
“To me, Tammy [Abraham], Fikayo [Tomori], Reece [James], you’re not [just] given it, you have to show you’re ready. When the day comes that you’re given the chance to play at Stamford Bridge, you have to show you’re ready to step up.
“At the start of the season, we knew what we had in the squad. We knew the quality. We knew the young players coming through would make the step up.
“It probably starts from when the gaffer first came in. He set goals to be at the top of the league. We knew a lot of people were undermining us because of the ban, so we knew the pressure would be off us a bit. We knew we had the quality, so we set the goals of being up at the top of the table. That was our target.”
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Mount reveals nickname for Reece James
One youngster who has started to really come into his own these past few weeks is James, who supplanted club captain Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back on the weekend.
The teenage full-back put in a solid display to keep Wilfried Zaha quiet as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners, and Mount has now shared a nickname bestowed on him because of his qualities.
He told the club’s official website: “Reece is a very quiet boy. I’ve known him for a very, very long time, since eight or nine years old at the Academy here. He’s a very good boy, always works hard, and he’s got tremendous qualities. He’s going to be a brilliant player for us now and in the future as well.
“I call him the Beast, because he’s so quick, strong and powerful. You don’t want to get too close to him in training because he’ll get you off the ball, so you try to stay away from him. We all have a joke and a laugh, me, Tammy, Fikayo, Cal, Reece. We’ve all been together from a very young age so we know the ins and outs of all of us.”