Lampard challenges Chelsea youngsters to earn further first-team opportunities

By Sports Desk September 25, 2019

Chelsea's youngsters deserved the chance to shine in Wednesday's EFL Cup tie with Grimsby Town and the onus is now on them to become first-team regulars, according to Frank Lampard.

Marc Guehi, Reece James and Billy Gilmour all made their first starts for the club, while Faustino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen were introduced as second-half substitutes as Chelsea cruised into round four with a crushing 7-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues raced two goals ahead inside the opening seven minutes thanks to strikes from Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi, but their League Two opponents pulled one back through Matt Green.

Pedro restored his side's two-goal lead from the penalty spot, however, and further goals from Kurt Zouma, James, Batshuayi and the returning Callum Hudson-Odoi followed in the second half.

Lampard insisted it was not the perfect performance but was pleased to give the academy graduates further recognition for their hard work.

"It was pleasing on lots of levels," he said at his post-match news conference.

"They've deserved to this point to make it into the team. Billy Gilmour had a fantastic debut, running the game from midfield. 

"Marc Guehi was solid and they deserved their starts since I've been at the club - and I've known them before when they played for the Under-23s. I think they've been outstanding this year. 

"The young boys that come on as subs, who are still young boys, to show their comfort on the ball and who they are. The opportunities are there but now the hard work really begins to get in there regularly and show they're worthy of the squad." 

James, in particular, caught the eye, the 19-year-old right-back scoring his side's fifth goal and playing a part in two more.

Lampard is keen for the youngster to push on and has also challenged Hudson-Odoi to improve after he marked his return from a long-term injury with a late strike.

"Reece's performance last year at Wigan show the talent he has got. I think he is going to be a big player for this club. He showed his real qualities on the ball today," he said.

"Callum's performance, first half I wasn't so sure. I thought him and Christian [Pulisic] as wingers, the message was to hurt the line and run behind and get into the box to take people on. 

"It wasn't happening and that message didn't get across. It was reinforced pretty strongly and in the second half he [Callum] managed to get into better positions. Callum's talent means that he absolutely works hard to run behind people, to get at people, to be inside, be outside and work off the ball, all those things.

"That's where he needs to learn, because if he wants to play week in and week out, that is what he is going to have to do."

Chelsea have been paired with Manchester United in the next round and Lampard is expecting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to bring a strong squad to Stamford Bridge.

"It is a big draw obviously," he said. "It is two big teams. I am pleased we are at home and we will see. 

"We have to respect that they have good players. They beat us 4-0 [on opening weekend in the Premier League], albeit it wasn't a 4-0 [on performance]. I am not going to sit here and talk down Man United because it will be a tough game no matter what way you look at it."

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