Fikayo Tomori on impact of Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard

Fikayo Tomori has told The Football Show how Frank Lampard has hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge, despite a transfer ban and the challenge of blooding a number of unproven young players.

Though key player Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid last summer, a run to the FA Cup quarter-finals and fourth spot in the Premier League – before domestic football was halted in March – has proved a strong return for the relatively inexperienced Lampard in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

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Tomori spent last term on loan under Lampard at Derby but after completing a full pre-season with the Blues for the first time, has become one of the club’s now trusted young crop of first-team players.

“Coming into this season, the young players felt we had an opportunity and the manager said he wanted to play youngsters,” Tomori told Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp. “Tammy (Abraham) and Mason (Mount) were scoring goals, I managed to get into the team, Reece (James) came back and started doing well after his injury.

“But being able to bounce off each other makes it a much more comfortable environment for us and we can relax and play our game. Then the experienced players like Antonio (Rudiger) and Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta), the ones who have been there and done it, sharing a changing room with Pedro who has won everything, it makes it easier to adapt and get to learn from these players.”

Blooding one young player into a starting line-up can prove a challenge but with Lampard giving regular game-time to Tomori, Abraham, Mount and James, and more recently Billy Gilmour, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic, the new kids on the block have had to adapt quickly to Premier League life for Chelsea to challenge for a Champions League spot.

Lampard’s experience and trophy haul as a player, if not as a manager just yet, plays a big part in that development in the mind of Tomori.

“Coming into [this season] I was trying to be relaxed about it all – but you’ve got your friends and family saying you’re playing for Chelsea, you’re playing in the Champions League and stuff,” he said.

“Sometimes that gets in your head, and you just think this is actually happening, it’s a dream. I try to stay focused and we’ve got the manager who’s played at World Cups and Champions League finals, he keeps us all calm and especially with the young players who are new to this stuff, there’s a lot of arm around our shoulders. The season’s been great and hopefully we can finish it off.”

‘Firmino, Salah so tough to play against’

Tomori admits the step up from Championship to Premier League has been noticeable – and says Liverpool’s forwards have posed him the greatest challenge so far.

“It has been different for me this season, just because it is the Premier League and it is a step up. You have to be more focused and prepared, always alert.

“In the Championship you have a lot of different strikers – some love it in the air or like to go in behind. But then I’m playing against [Roberto] Firmino and he’s dropping deep into midfield. Things happen a lot faster and mistakes are punished more harshly.

“Firmino was probably the most difficult [to play against] – along with Salah. Every time they got the ball, I was thinking, ‘This is a challenge but this is where I want to be – this is a chance to prove that I can play at this level’.

Tomori’s unusual lockdown pastime

With the nationwide lockdown into its second month, Tomori has taken a different approach to help pass the time until football returns – by completing a business management degree.

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