By 90Min
July 13, 2019

For the first time in a long time at Stamford Bridge, the prospect of first team football for young players looks closer to reality than fairytale. Previously, depending on who you ask, the youth policy sometimes even resembled a nightmare. 

Not only did the Blues fail to tap into the potential of much-vaunted starlets such as Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah, they contrived to miss the obvious potential contained within Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah, now two of the Premier League's biggest talents. 

If Frank Lampard is to be believed, these lapses of patience and judgements are a thing of the past and several players will be looking to take advantage of Chelsea's new-found philosophy, imposed via their transfer window ban. 

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Tammy Abraham has already spoken of his optimism concerning the idea of Lampard's management, with the 21-year-old having spent two seasons in the Championship terrifying defences and hitting 49 second tier goals. There is also a potential vacuum up front for the London club, with Alvaro Morata gone and Gonzalo Higuain's future laying away from London.

Even with these favourable circumstances, Abraham's chances are unclear. Mason Mount, on the other hand, has got a serious chance of breaking into the first team and must be looking forward to another year spent under Lampard. Last season at Derby, he proved to be essential to the team's sixth-placed finish. An array of crisp passing and his quick, dancing feet carved open several of Derby's best attacking flourishing, not least his assist for Martyn Waghorn in Derby's 3-2 loss at Chelsea in October's League Cup clash. 

But it was in the Championship where the 20-year-old was at his most effective. Lampard, one of the best midfielders in world football at his peak, appears to fundamentally understand Mason's strengths: he dictates play relentlessly, has an obsession with finding space, is adept at releasing teammates and escaping his midfield counterparts. He even occasionally chips in with an effort from range that narrowly escapes the grasp of the keeper. 

He shares many of these attributes with his manager, as it happens, and Lampard insists his goalscoring record can improve from the nine he struck in the Championship last season. “Mason missed two months of the season and that shows he’s a boy that’s going to score goals and that’s important for us", he said after the midfielder's hat-trick against Bolton in April. 


He also been effusive in pre-season about the likes of Mount and centre-back Fikayo Tomori and what they brought to his Derby team.

The problem for Mount, and indeed any player making the step up after a loan spell in the lower divisions, is that the Premier League is an entirely different beast. A top player in the Championship can be - and many have - eaten alive after entering the top-flight, and Mount has an even bigger expectation on his neck given he will be playing for a team which finished third last season. 

If this flourishing of youth is to truly take off at Chelsea, it is up to Lampard to simultaneously keep Mount and others filled with self-belief and also make sure their feet remain firmly secured to the ground. He is best advised to avoid his predecessor Maurizio Sarri's blueprint - the Italian froze out Callum Hudson-Odoi until pressure and common sense forced him to change direction.

One imagines Lampard will be far more tactful. For all his managerial inexperience, he has played under some of the biggest giants in the game, including Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Along with that, he galvanised youth last season at Pride Park, and allowed the mixture of energetic young players and experienced older players to push them into the playoff final. 

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If Lampard can repeat some of that goodwill and togetherness that defined his time at Derby, he will likely be rewarded with time and patience from the fans and board. But if his project goes off the rails, as it often does for Chelsea managers, it could be the final straw for young players who still believe they can make a name for themselves in west London. 

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