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Fikayo Tomori Gives Frank Lampard a Timely Reminder of His Importance

Fikayo Tomori returned to the Chelsea side against Hull City.

After dropping out of the first eleven in recent weeks, the 22-year-old put in a star performance away to Hull City and will be hoping that is enough to get him back in Chelsea's ever-changing defence away to Leicester City on Saturday lunchtime.

Fikayo Tomori's determination to lose his man and stretch his neck muscles to double Chelsea's lead was the icing on top of a fine outing for the defender on his return to first-team action. It epitomised a 90-minutes which saw him put in an assured performance on a mostly unsure night for the Blues. 

Stats bare out an impressive evening as the defender achieved a 95% passing accuracy, winning 4/5 duels, 3 tackles, 1 interception and 5 clearances.  

Against the club he played for on loan in 2017/18, Tomori's progress in only a couple of seasons was laid bare at the KCOM. Two years ago, the concept that the Canadian-born centre back would be returning to play for his parent club in a season where he has been one of the top performers would have seemed a ludicrous proposition. 

However, the quick change in circumstance at Stamford Bridge has aided Tomori in a major way. 

Even in pre-season, rumours of a loan move were circulating and minutes on the pitch still appeared limited with a whole host of options in a back-four for Frank Lampard to choose from. 

The door that opened for Tomori likely was defined by a hectic 24-hour period at the closing of the Summer Transfer window when David Luiz kicked up a fuss and packed his bags for Arsenal. The move was swift and suddenly Tomori shifted up the pecking order. Lampard's stand over Luiz appeared a major early statement, a decision which was predicated on the club's young head coach making a statement early into his reign he was not going to bow to player pressure. 

It took until the 31st August for Tomori to be given his first Premier League start at home to Sheffield United. 

Tomori is a firm example that Lampard was not forced to play younger players because of the transfer ban and it was his decision to put faith behind unproven talent. 

Lampard's knowledge of Tomori's capability was down to their relationship at Derby, where the defender became a stalwart in the Rams defence. It spoke volumes that Tomori was awarded the club's player of the season ahead of fellow Chelsea-loanee Mason Mount in a season they reached the play-off final. 

“He has come a long way since the first day he turned up at Derby,” Lampard said speaking to The Telegraph. “There were things he needed to improve, even personality-wise. He was quite quiet. You see a change in his personality and you see the player he has turned into.”

Tomori would start again at Molineux in September and would put himself as a frontrunner for Chelsea's goal of the season with a jaw-dropping long range effort. That goal would spark a glorious 5-2 win for Chelsea – a day when all three of Tomori, Mount and Tammy Abraham would find the net – all who had grown up together in the club's academy. 

With a long-term injury to Antonio Rudiger and fitness issues with Andreas Christensen, Tomori would snatch the opportunity with both hands, impressing supporters with his blend of pace, composure in possession and aggressive interceptions. During Chelsea's best winning run of the season, his name would feature in every starting eleven – all alongside Kurt Zouma as the two formed a good chemistry. 

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It was during this period Tomori's fine work would earn him an England call-up in Gareth Southgate's England squad and has helped put his name among candidates to feature in the Euro's this summer. 

In a season lacking defensive solidity, Tomori has been involved in some of the most resolute outings, away to Ajax and Spurs.

A untimely hip issue coincided with Rudiger's return and suddenly Tomori would find himself watching on from the sidelines, where he has been predominantly in recent weeks – only starting three of the last nine Premier League games. 

Like all parts of Chelsea's current eleven, most seem flexible and up for debate and the centre-back pairing is the most uncertain. 

Frank Lampard has failed to settle on a preferred pairing, fielding varying types of combinations. Zouma and Christensen, Zouma and Tomori, Rudiger and Zouma, Christensen and Rudiger and a back three have all been given a test-run. 

Christensen has come back into favour recently and has been impressive despite the side still conceding. In terms of comfort on the ball when being pressed, Tomori and the Dane seem most suited yet have only played together three times in a back-two. Of those occasions, only twice to completion as Christensen was forced off with injury early in the home defeat to Liverpool. The other two games – at home to Brighton and Nottingham Forest – both ended in 2-0 victories for the Blues and two rare clean sheets. 

The physicality of Tomori also could work well with Rudiger as a partner and is the only combination Lampard has not started with. 

Whatever the case, Chelsea need to find a regular back-two in a shaky defence and the constant switching likely has not aided the under fire Kepa Arrizabalaga. 

Tomori left the field with a massive smile across his face, clapping the over 4,000 strong travelling contingent of Chelsea fans who had made the long journey to East Yorkshire to cheer on the Blues to victory. After the game, the academy graduate reflected on a whirlwind season. 

“Everything has happened really fast this year. I’m proud of what I’ve done but it’s only the beginning. I want to achieve more, I want to win some trophies and play more games for England.

“At a club like Chelsea, there’s competition for places everywhere. The manager chose to leave me out for some games.

“I have to respect his decision and work hard on the training pitch so, when my chance comes, I can hopefully take it.” 

Whatever Lampard chooses come Saturday for a major test against the high-flying Foxes, Tomori has shown he is ready to step up to the task when called upon and continues to show proof of why he is rated so highly in SW6.