Lampard: I have always wanted Tomori in my Chelsea squad

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The Blues youngster is the least talked about of the academy stars coming through but he has made a big impact this season

Frank Lampard says that the decision to keep Fikayo Tomori in his squad was not solely down to the sale of David Luiz to Arsenal as he trusts the young defender to move on to the next level.

Tomori is in line to start against Liverpool on Sunday having lined up from the beginning in each of Chelsea's last three games.

Lampard had the 21-year-old on loan at Derby County last season before he returned to manage at Stamford Bridge, where he is regarded as a legendary player.

The Blues boss denied that Luiz's sale has been key to the prominence of Tomori this season and credits his assistant Jody Morris for spotting his talent.

“I was aware of him, not too much, just from a distance of being aware of players of the youth team at the time who were playing at a good level. Myself and John [Terry] would keep an eye on young players coming through," Lampard told reporters.

“At Derby, it happened nicely for me because we needed a centre-back, we only had two last year, actual centre-backs at the start of the season. I knew Fikayo was available and the rest is short-term history, I suppose.

"I made the call. It was a nice fit in the end. Having known someone, and Jody had worked closely with him as well, so we knew his attributes and know where he could improve. The real credit of Fikayo is the way that he has approached it all.

"His mentality from when he came to Derby and to today has been brilliant. From beginning to end, that is why he is improving. I just trust in him. I trust in him as a player, the way that he trains every day, it’s the kind of thing I want to see daily and the way he plays.

"Of course he is a young player, like all young players there are moments where he can improve and that’s something he constantly needs to work on. I trust in him; hence, I wanted him as part of the squad. That wouldn’t have mattered who might have gone or not.

"My idea when I came here was to keep Fik part of the squad anyway because I trust him to come and play here. Where better a place to play than the club he has come through at?"

The crowning moment this season for the youngster was his long-range strike against away at Wolves which opened the scoring in a convincing 5-2 win.

Tomori is an England Under-21 international but is also eligible to play for Nigeria through his parental lineage. He additionally represented Canada at youth level due to being born in Calgary, Alberta.

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England manager Gareth Southgate may be concerned that Nigeria will try to convince Tomori to switch national allegiances as they attempt to do the same with his team-mate Tammy Abraham, but Lampard thinks that he should put the inevitable debate to the back of his mind and focus on his club career.

“It’s his choice. I wouldn’t tell him where to play internationally. But he has played for the U21s and if he continues with the form he has and keeps improving then there would be potential for England if Gareth chooses to select him. It’s his call," he added.

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“I think he shouldn’t worry about it too much at the minute. Just worry about the way he is playing and the way he trains. It will be a nice problem for him if he is eligible for three, he can choose which one he wants.”

Tomori is understood to be in line for a new deal after seeing fellow homegrown stars like Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount renew contracts under Lampard.

The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino now represent a big test for the youngster as Chelsea face Liverpool on Sunday at Stamford Bridge

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