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Lampard happy to see Abraham break Chelsea's No.9 curse

01:30 GMT+3 11/01/2020
Tammy Abraham Chelsea 2019
The Blues boss is happy to see his young striker handling the spotlight of being his club's main goalscorer this season

Frank Lampard had to ponder the decision to give Tammy Abraham the No.9 shirt due to the pressure it caused previous Chelsea strikers, but says his charge has proven he is up to the task of leading the line.

The likes of Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain have all struggled while wearing the iconic number at Stamford Bridge, but Abraham has not fallen into that pattern.

He got the shirt he wanted ahead of the season and he has been a revelation at the club upon returning from three successive loan spells at Bristol City, Swansea City and Aston Villa.

The 22-year-old scored his 14th goal of the season away at Arsenal two weeks ago and emulated his idol Didier Drogba through his celebration after the 87th-minute winning goal.

Lampard admits he had to think through the decision to give a prominent role to the striker and he hopes he can now follow in Drogba's footsteps.

“I am really impressed because when the No.9 shirt was available quite a few people around here were saying to me: ‘Ooh, be careful, that’s not always had the best feeling in different players here,'" Lampard told reporters at Cobham Training Centre.

“It was my decision to give it to him purely on his personality in pre-season. I knew he was a good player and I liked him on the training ground but his personality is one that he was saying: ‘Yes please, I want that, I want to be Chelsea’s No.9.’

“It was an easy thing to feel and say at that point but to then go produce like he has done is a great start. And it’s a start. He needs to keep going because he is probably at that stage now where everyone is starting to expect Tammy to play well, score and affect games in a big way.

"And that brings a new challenge and that is his one now. When it [the No. 9 shirt] was mentioned, it made me think twice and go, ‘Oh, actually, what is the situation here?’ because he is a young boy.

"If you’re signing a 25-year-old who has scored multiple goals in a different league or in the Premier League you might see it differently and it would be a really easy decision, but the question with a young boy is does he need that pressure? My opinion was yes.

"I saw him coming through the ranks here for such a long time from being a young boy and for me, it was like he must have always wanted to be Chelsea’s No.9. That was his aim at all times. I know he used to idolise Didier Drogba.

"So he thought, 'I want to be Chelsea’s mainline striker' and the No.9 is generally that so I thought it was an opportunity for him to rise to that hopefully.”

With Abraham having broken through, Olivier Giroud has made just seven appearances all season, which has led to him pushing for an exit from the west London club in January.

Inter have met his agent and agreed on a contract to bring in the 33-year-old, but they haven't yet negotiated a fee with Chelsea. Lampard says he is ready to let Giroud go and he thinks having Abraham and Michy Batshuayi is enough for a team that normally plays with just one striker.

“We have some adaptable players in our team who could take up different roles so that would have to come into my thinking [if a striker got injured],” Lampard added. “Again, that’s my job. I’m going into it now. I have to make those decisions as I go along.

"I also have to think about the makeup of the squad, the spirit of the squad and I also have a human level where I look at people and players, how they are, how they train and how the squad could be affected in lots of different ways.

“Oli has been great as well and I respect him for that and that slightly comes into my thinking as well. The club will always come first. If I feel the decision to keep everybody in the January window that will be my decision too.

"Nothing is done yet so we can probably broach these questions if and when something is done. I am not worried [about Giroud's attitude], he is an absolute professional."

Ahead of Chelsea's game against Burnley, rivals Tottenham announced that Harry Kane is out injured until April, which could see Abraham take his role for the England national team.

Gareth Southgate has consistently called up the Blues striker this season after his run of good form and Lampard says Abraham knows he is competing with the Spurs man for England caps.

“He should always be thinking that. He’s not silly. You know who your competitors are whether it is to get into our team or the England team," he concluded on Abraham. "So those things you see the environment about yourself.

"What I love about Tammy is that it just won’t be Harry Kane, he would do well but he should be taking markers from Harry Kane’s game himself. Tammy will be watching every type of striker and trying to improve himself at all times. And that’s the only important thing because the rest will fall into place.”