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Lampard demands more from Chelsea youngsters in battle for top-four finish

4:50 AM GMT+4 16/02/2020
Frank Lampard Chelsea 2019-20
The Blues boss is counting on the academy graduates to "do their thing" and help guide the team to a Champions League spot

Frank Lampard has urged Chelsea's young players to step up to the challenge as they look to seal a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Blues are on course to seal a place in the Champions League, but hold just a slight lead over the teams looking to overtake them.

Sheffield United are just two points behind the London side, while Tottenham are a further two back and the likes of Wolves, Everton and Manchester United are still in the frame.

Lampard's team can strengthen their grip on fourth place if they get the better of United when they welcome Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team to Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

Chelsea have had to rely on young players from their academy to remain competitive after the transfer ban which prevented them from strengthening the squad last summer.

And club legend Lampard is calling on the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James to give even more as the campaign heats up.

“It’s a critical time for us and I need the young players to do their thing," Lampard told reporters.

"I think when you come through this academy, you should understand what playing for the first team at Chelsea looks like. You must always drive yourself and drive yourself and, if there’s times when you’re not necessarily at your best, you need to drive yourself again.

"The young players have made a great impact this season and we’ve had reliance on them to a degree, because we knew we couldn’t bring anyone in at the start.

"Through the season I think there are going to be some difficult times and, if you look at Tammy Abraham at the moment, and maybe Mason [Mount], I think the break was particularly good for them as they can come back and hopefully show more levels in their game.

"There’s been tough little times recently and I think it’s up to them now. They’ve shown they’re part of this first-team squad and they’ve all had their good inputs but I want more and I think I want more now."

Still in his debut season as Chelsea boss, Lampard says he has spent a lot of time reflecting on his own performance so far.

While he believes there have been some positives, he admits there is room for improvement for him and his team. 

“I always like to reflect on myself and how I work,” Lampard said. “When you’re a new manager at a club, and I only came in last summer, you always think: ‘What small tweaks can I make to how we prepare and how we train daily?’

“There was a lot of self-reflection [during the break]. And just having some time away, having a bit of clarity, I think we should be happy that we’re in fourth position. I think that would have been a plus at the start of the season.

"At the same time how can we get that extra 10 or 15% which I think we’ve been lacking? We would have had a lot more points on the board [if we did] and made fourth look a lot more comfortable.”