Saturday, October 5, 2019

Frank Lampard on Tomori's progression into the first team: "I think there is a lot more to come still. You don't know until you put players in. Against Sheffield United at home was a game where I thought he deserved his opportunity for his training, how he trained.

Frank Lampard admits that Fikayo Tomori has been his pet project but he says that his consistency has helped keep him in the Chelsea team after being on the fringes in pre-season.

Chelsea considered sending Tomori on loan during the summer transfer window, with Everton among the clubs interested, but Lampard opted to keep him and to sell David Luiz to Arsenal.

Tomori was expected to be the fourth choice centre-back at Stamford Bridge this season as he played less than Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma in pre-season.

However, his good form since coming in against Sheffield United on August 31 has made him an important figure at Stamford Bridge, leading toGareth Southgate calling him up for England's upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Lampard, who managed Tomori last season while the defender was on loan at Derby County, spoke about the 21-year-old ahead of Chelsea's game against Southampton on Sunday.

"He was quiet at Derby. He was quite quiet with me – he wasn't quiet when they were all together," Lampard told reporters. "From a distance. He has definitely got personality.

"And that group last year, the group he was in at Derby, he became very popular in the dressing room and popular with the fans because of his performances.

"He was Player of the Year. The progression was huge but the main thing I saw in him was work ethic. He quietly goes about his business. He trains hard, everything you ask him to do he tries to do and more. Physically he is great – we know that.

"But he is one of those when you are doing sprinting or running or some heavy running early season, which we were doing, you could see every day he is nailed on. He does the job. When you want to do a particular training session, something quite simple but takes focus, he is focussed and ready to go.

"And I think that has really shown itself in his performances since he stepped into the team. I put trust in him early in the season – I think that was obvious with the way the pre-season went with the centre-backs. At the moment, he has really delivered and long may that continue.

"I think there is a lot more to come still. You don't know until you put players in. Against Sheffield United at home was a game where I thought he deserved his opportunity for his training, how he trained.

"That is a great message to all the players: how you train will relate to whether you get picked. Those are the rules here. You have to train at a level. And he trained so well for a period of time he deserved it against Sheffield United and then he gave me a big problem because he played so well and he has continued to do that.

"Yes, he is a project in a way but a nice one because everything you want him to do, he stands up and delivers."

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