Frank Lampard insists he retains huge belief in Mason Mount, despite substituting the Chelsea midfielder at half-time in the FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City.

Lampard was disgruntled with the Blues' first-half display at the King Power Stadium, with Mount and fellow youngsters Reece James and Billy Gilmour hooked.

Mount's replacement Ross Barkley netted the winning goal to book a semi-final showdown against Manchester United.

Nevertheless, speaking ahead of Wednesday's London derby at West Ham, Lampard insisted the standing of a player he took on loan to Derby County last season before overseeing a breakthrough at Premier League and international level is not at all diminished.

"I rely on Mason a lot. I did at Derby, I do at Chelsea," Lampard said, with Mount's 44 appearances in all competitions this season acting to back up his point.

"He brings so much to the team in his work ethic and the way he can start up a press in midfield. And then obviously his quality on the ball, which is only going to get better and it's already at a really high level.

"Mason wouldn't have been happy going off at half-time. I know that because, a bit like myself, I know that when he's not playing he's not happy and if he comes off he won't be happy.

"It was certainly a moment where he should be not happy that evening and then straight back to it afterwards because he knows how much I trust in him.

"He works brilliantly every day. And when I talk about Mason, I'm talking about Reece and Billy in the same breath.

"There'll be no problem at all with Mason. I had to make a decision and it doesn't affect my thinking for West Ham or going forwards."

A match against West Ham is one to relish for Mount, given it brings him into direct competition with childhood friend Declan Rice – something Lampard acknowledges can be a motivating factor.

"I think it spurs you on more if you have a personal relationship in either way – whether they're your best friend or you don't like each other," he said.

"I always think the result of that is not concrete either. You can have your best games in those circumstances and also become overly focused on that relationship and have not-so-good games.

"They're two very good young players. The only thing I ask of Mason going into this one is that he texts him tonight and smiles at him with a tongue or whatever it is, but if and when they go up against each other he has to try and beat him in every individual battle that he possibly can.

"And, sensing Declan Rice's character, I think they'll both be like-minded on that one."

Rice and Mount fell foul of UK lockdown restrictions when they were seen sharing a kickabout earlier in the coronavirus crisis.

Chelsea reminded the 21-year-old of his responsibilities at the time and Lampard was quick to draw a line under the incident.

"I saw Mason in a couple of places compared to players who went out partying and stayed up all night and did different things," he added.

"I'm not wanting to angle on that, but what I want to say is Mason was very innocently and naively and wrongly – he held his hands up to that at the time – kicking a ball about. That's so typical of Mason, how he lives his life.

"I had the shortest ever conversation with Mason. He was pretty apologetic that he got it wrong straight away and we moved on."

Frank Lampard has no concerns over Chelsea's young players, despite conceding his side were far below their best against Leicester City.

Ross Barkley came on from the bench to score in the 63rd minute on Sunday, securing a 1-0 victory to send Chelsea through to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Manchester United up next on July 18 or 19.

However, Lampard's side were second best in the first half, with the Blues boss making three changes at half-time – Barkley being one of the alterations. 

Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James were the players to make way, but Lampard insists he has full confidence in the young trio.

"The first half wasn't what we're used to in terms of performance this season," Lampard, who took advantage of the temporary rule allowing five substitutions, told a news conference.

"We seriously lacked urgency and intensity in the first half, so the three subs... I probably could have made more subs or different subs.

"Of course, if we didn't have the extra subs, I wouldn't make the three at half-time, but the reason the subs are here is because they are trying to prevent injury and understand that the players have missed a proper pre-season.

"We can probably look at that we had three big games in a week, a very difficult game on Thursday, so I'll allow us a bit of credit, and the fact they showed enough to turn it around against good opposition.

"I don't think we have played that badly this season in 45 minutes; we played a lot better and lost games. So when it looks like I'm criticising, I'm actually positive that it's not the norm for us but it felt like it had to be addressed.

"I could've made different changes as well. In Mason's situation, he played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Man City. Reece James hasn't played in a long time since going into lockdown and Billy's the same, so there are contributing factors around it.

"They are going to be top players, they will have top careers in football - that's the players they are - so whether you can call it a learning experience, I did do that.

"They are all good lads, they train well and I've never had a problem with them at all, so I've got no worries."

One player who did draw Lampard's praise was goalscorer Barkley, who has looked sharp since the resumption of the campaign.

"I played with Ross and I know he's a great lad. He wants to be the best player he can be and has a great attitude," Lampard added.

"Before lockdown, he put in some really good performances for us, his attitude has been spot on in training, he looked after himself in lockdown, and he was unfortunate not to start against Aston Villa. Since then, he's made an impact in every match he's played.

"I've got lots of time for Ross. He's a big player for us - you saw that today and in the last three games."

Jadon Sancho got the better of England team-mate Marcus Rashford in the first round of the team's #FootballsStayingHome Cup on FIFA 20 on Friday.

Sancho prevailed 2-1 despite initially trailing to a goal created by the in-game version of the Borussia Dortmund winger, his cross finding Rashford, controlled by Rashford.

"Oh, Jadon Sancho to Marcus Rashford! Sanch is under pressure right now," Rashford laughed on camera. "Oh my lord, I know you're sweating."

However, Sancho equalised through Rashford himself and then netted a winner with Raheem Sterling.

"I threw the game away, man," Rashford moaned, before adding: "You know what? I'm going to play you again. I'm going to go back to the drawing board and play you later."

Sixteen players across England's senior men's and women's teams and the Under-21s are involved in a tournament designed to raise awareness for staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the competition - which also highlighted the National Emergencies Trust, a collection of community foundations that distributes money to charities - Tammy Abraham, James Maddison, Todd Cantwell and Lucy Bronze were among the others to also advance to the quarter-finals.

Abraham was helped by a hat-trick from Rashford as he defeated Chelsea colleague Callum Hudson-Odoi 5-2.

Meanwhile, Maddison scored as himself in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Callum Wilson that was sealed with a winner from Harry Kane.

"Look who it is! The dangerman," Maddison cried after finding the net with his computerised self.

Cantwell won the battle of the midfielders against Mason Mount, with substitute Rashford scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win after the Norwich City man brought him off the bench.

Mount had threatened to quit if Cantwell scored with the virtual version of the Chelsea midfielder, though he vowed to retire from the game after the drubbing.

"Go and win this and I won't feel bad," he told Cantwell.

Cantwell's club team-mate Max Aarons had his own hat-trick hero as Maddison grabbed all the goals in the 3-1 victory over Trent Alexander-Arnold's England.

Elsewhere, Ryan Sessegnon won 3-1 against Reiss Nelson, who was in disbelief that it was only a one-game series, while a golden goal earned Bronze a victory over Ellie Roebuck.

Bronze is the only female representative in the last eight after Eddie Nketiah saw off fellow Arsenal star Jordan Nobbs, setting up a meeting with Sancho.

Chelsea have reminded the squad of their responsibilities after Mason Mount was pictured playing football in public when he should have been self-isolating amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The entire Chelsea first-team, coaching staff and several backroom members were ordered to self-isolate after it was confirmed on Friday Callum Hudson-Odoi had contracted coronavirus.

Hudson-Odoi, 19, was the first Premier League player to test positive for COVID-19.

But Mount was photographed playing five-a-side football with close friend and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice on Sunday.

Unlike Chelsea, West Ham have not implemented the same isolation procedures.

Stats Perform understands all of Chelsea's first-team players have since been reminded of their responsibilities.

Due to the pandemic, the Premier League has been put on hold until April 3.

However, many believe April is an unrealistic target with COVID-19 infections yet to peak in the United Kingdom.

Italy's Serie A is also postponed until April 3, though Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina acknowledged that looks unlikely with the virus hitting the country hard.

Frank Lampard will warn his Chelsea squad they must be prepared to "suffer" as they attempt to upset the odds and knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.

The Premier League club host Bayern in the opening leg of the last-16 tie on Tuesday, with the return fixture at the Allianz Arena on March 18.

Chelsea will aim to capitalise on having home advantage in the first meeting, but Lampard acknowledges this will be a "level up" for some of his younger, less experienced players in Europe's leading club competition.

"We've got players with Champions League experience in this group, as well as younger players in the early stages of their careers, particularly in the Champions League," Lampard, who won the tournament as a player with Chelsea during his illustrious career, told the media on Monday.

"They have to understand why I keep talking about the levels going up, and what the mindset levels are. A big part of my job tomorrow is to explain to the players that over two legs, we need to be at our maximum.

"We must make sure every box is ticked in both games. We can't get caught up in game moments. After the game, we will probably suffer.

"Bayern Munich are an incredible side with the ball. They've got some really talented players who keep the ball and use the ball well. If we have to suffer, we have to suffer. That's our job over the next two games."

This will be a new challenge for Reece James and Mason Mount in particular, the duo having spent the previous season on loan at Championship clubs Wigan Athletic and Derby County respectively.

However, Lampard will continue to put faith in his youth movement as the Blues look to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.

"I've got no doubts to start them. I trust in those two," the Chelsea head coach said. "I trust all the young players who have been part of the squad this year. That's a huge part of what we do here.

"The reason I trust them is because of the way they play, the way they train. I will speak to them.

"They've played big games but as I've mentioned before, it changes slightly when you get to the knockout stage. I'll certainly speak to all of my players, particularly the younger players about what that means."

Chelsea go into the game following a 2-1 league win Tottenham, who lost 7-2 at home to Bayern in the group stages of the Champions League.

Olivier Giroud started – and scored – in the weekend triumph over their London rivals, leaving Lampard with a decision to make over whether the France striker retains his place in the starting XI.

"I know I can rely on him," he said of Giroud. "He's professional, he's quality and he was great. He's given me a lot to think about."

Pedro is available again, but Lampard confirmed he will be without Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi – who is "not far away" from a return – and N'Golo Kante.

Chelsea secured the future of one of their brightest young talents by handing a new five-and-a-half-year contract to right-back Reece James.

The 20-year-old's breakthrough into Frank Lampard's first team this season is one of several success stories among a richly gifted crop of homegrown academy graduates at Stamford Bridge.

Full international honours are next on the agenda for England Under-21 defender James, with the experiences of his esteemed team-mates suggesting caps might not be too far away.

Even if the decision to give youth its head was in part informed by Chelsea's player registration ban during the previous transfer window, the success of his young stars means Lampard's faith has unquestionably been vindicated.

Tammy Abraham

Given his chance after a prolific loan spell at Aston Villa last season, Abraham is now firmly established as Chelsea's number one striker. The 22-year-old has 15 goals in all competitions this campaign and the recent injury setback for Harry Kane means he could yet be a pivotal figure for his country at Euro 2020. Talks over a new Chelsea deal reportedly remain ongoing.

Mason Mount

A creative midfielder with an eye for goal, Mount quickly felt like a perfect match for Lampard who took him on loan to Derby County for 2018-19 before the pair reunited at Chelsea. His transition to the Premier League has been seamless, with the 21-year-old featuring in all 22 games this season and chipping in with five goals and a pair of assists. Mount also appeared in all six of England's Euro 2020 qualifiers this term, scoring during a 4-0 win in Kosovo.

Fikayo Tomori

A classy and dominant centre-back, Tomori has taken the same path as Mount: a move on loan to Derby, where he was voted player of the season, back to Chelsea, into the first team and called up by England. Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and West Ham concluded 11 consecutive Premier League starts for the 22-year-old, who then suffered a hip injury. A fit-again Antonio Rudiger and Lampard's willingness to switch between three and four at the back means a challenging second half of the campaign could lie in wait for Tomori, who signed a contract until the end of 2023-24 in December.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

The lavishly gifted winger made his international breakthrough last season despite Maurizio Sarri's reluctance to give him Premier League minutes. Before returning from a ruptured Achilles, Hudson-Odoi committed to a new five-year contract in September, putting lingering links with Bayern Munich to bed. His first goal in the top-flight against Burnley last time out suggested the 19-year-old could be ready for lift-off all over again.

Reece James

Like Hudson-Odoi, James also had to wait for his chance this season after recuperating from injury. Last season's player of the year at Wigan Athletic now boasts 18 senior appearances and a couple of goals – his equaliser in November's scarcely credible 4-4 draw against Ajax one that will live long in the memory. The 20-year-old's attacking prowess and vicious deliveries from the right flank have given Lampard's men a new dimension in recent weeks.

Frank Lampard aimed a sly dig at Jose Mourinho after insisting he will stand by Chelsea's talented youngsters rather than cast them aside.

With Chelsea under a transfer embargo when Lampard took over, he was forced to promote from within, handing chances to the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.

The trio have seized their opportunities with a string of fine displays that have led to call-ups to the England squad.

And even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport have reduced Chelsea's sanction, enabling them to buy again in the January window, Lampard insists he will not repeat mistakes made by Mourinho and allow young players to move on and become world class elsewhere.

Mourinho sold Kevin De Bruyne to Wolfsburg during his second spell in charge at Chelsea, while he barely played Mohamed Salah before sending him out on loan to Fiorentina and then Roma.

Both men are now established as among the best players in the world due to their exploits with Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively.

Lampard said: "I believe in the young players.

"I thought Mason Mount’s performance [during the 2-0 win at Tottenham on Sunday], not just to isolate Mason as I thought Tammy was fantastic and Tomori was too, but his performance was a great example of why you want to stick with and have patience with these young players because he is a young boy and there will be moments where the game will be difficult for him and he will learn.

"And then there will be games like the other day when you can see the player that he is.

"If we are not patient and stick with the players we might be in a situation before where absolutely top world-class players at this minute have been at Chelsea when they were 20 or 21 and managers maybe did not stick with them so much then.

"I am in a position where I will stick with them."

Lampard's criticism of Mourinho forms part of a very public ongoing spat started by the Portuguese after he accused Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger of playacting to get Son Heung-min sent off during the weekend game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

A delighted Frank Lampard hailed his Chelsea players for returning to form following their miserable loss to West Ham with a vastly improved performance in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

Goals from former Villa loanee Tammy Abraham and Mount proved enough to ensure Chelsea got back to winning ways after successive Premier League defeats, while the hosts should have won by a wider margin after creating a host of chances in the second half as Willian excelled.

Although Chelsea were unable to claim a third goal, their manager was buoyed by an encouraging display more in keeping with their general form this season, after they had struggled badly in Saturday's home defeat to West Ham.

Having seen his side strengthen their hold on fourth place, Lampard said: "I thought we were great. It was a really good performance.

"We played our game and I'm really, really pleased. That was us again. We had a blip against West Ham. We haven't had many of those this season. Even if we've lost, we've shown a lot in a lot of these games.

"The blip wasn't us at the weekend and today we were back. The disappointment of the day is we don't win by two or three clear goals, at least."

Mount, whose winning goal came courtesy of a delightful volley, agreed with the assessment of his boss.

Asked if Chelsea needed to deliver a response after their poor showing against West Ham, the England midfielder said: "It was something that we spoke about before the game.

"We knew that performance wasn’t good enough and we knew we needed to start winning more games at home and [producing] dominating performances.

"I thought we did that. We were aggressive, winning second balls and in the second half we really came alive and could have had more goals.

"I think all-round today it was much better. After the last performance at home, we knew we needed to up it and that's how it went."

VAR controversy, Leicester City's swashbuckling style, Liverpool's unrelenting charge to the title – these are all among the most prominent themes of the opening months of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

But arguably trumping all of them in terms of column inches has been Chelsea's use of young players, with Frank Lampard's return to the club as head coach coinciding with a new-found desire to bring youngsters into the first-team.

Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Christian Pulisic have all featured regularly, while Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James have recently returned from serious injuries.

Eden Hazard, Graeme Le Saux, Sean Dyche, Roy Hodgson and Petr Cech are just a few of the army of people to lavish Chelsea and Lampard with praise for this philosophy.

Although it is difficult not to be cynical of Lampard's insistence that he would have had the same approach even if Chelsea were not banned from signing new players, the fact remains they are giving young players a chance.

But how does their use of under-23 players compare to the rest of the teams in Europe's top five leagues?

PREMIER LEAGUE

It might surprise supporters to learn that among Premier League clubs, Chelsea don't lead the way for appearances (60), minutes (4,164) or assists (8) for players who were under 23 on matchday.

Manchester United have racked up the highest number of matches for players younger than 23 (84), one more than Leicester. The next highest is Bournemouth (67), while Arsenal and Norwich City are also ahead of Chelsea.

As such, United have given 5,801 minutes of Premier League football to young players, though Leicester lead the way with 6,164 and are also on top in terms of assists (15).

Chelsea's 20 goals from qualifying players is a division high, however, four more than United. Leicester are the third and final side to reach double figures.

And the Blues' average starting XI age of 25 years and 115 days is among the youngest, though Bournemouth are ahead on that front (25y 88d).

LALIGA

In Spain's top flight, only Real Sociedad (84) and Real Mallorca (68) have given more matches to young players than Chelsea. They're also the only clubs to accumulate more minutes played by youngsters than the Blues (5,341 and 5,944, respectively).

La Real also top the charts for goals (10), assists (8) and average starting XI age (25y 235d) in Spain, though none of those records better Chelsea's.

Therefore, it's fair to say LaLiga, renowned for its development of young players, is lagging behind Premier League in that regard at the moment.

SERIE A

Chelsea's 60 appearances by young players would put them fourth on those terms in Serie A, with Fiorentina (79), Genoa and AC Milan (both 72) out in front.

Those three have also given more minutes to under-23s, with Fiorentina (5,837) setting the bar again.

Genoa have had 11 goals set up by under-23 players, three more than Chelsea, while Milan's average starting XI age (24y 203d) is much lower than Lampard's men.

But in each of those two parameters, Chelsea would be second in the chart. They would lead for goals from under-23s, with Fiorentina top in Italy on 10.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig (80), Mainz, Schalke (both 70) and Borussia Monchengladbach (63) have been the most open to playing under-23s in the Bundesliga

Similarly, all four clubs have seen those players feature in more than 4,500 minutes this season – Leipzig unsurprisingly leading the way with 5,259.

Leipzig are also Chelsea's closest challengers in terms of goals. Their record of 17 may be slightly less than the Blues, but their 11-assist haul - level with Gladbach - takes them to 28 involvements, exactly the same as Lampard's side.

Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig are also the youngest side in the Bundesliga, with their starting XI's average age just 24 years and 340 days. Mainz (25y 38d) are the only other top-flight German club to beat Chelsea in this regard.

LIGUE 1

France's Ligue 1 is by far the most accessible of the five major leagues for young players, with a total of 1,360 appearances from under-23 players across the 20 clubs, an average of 68 per team.

In comparison, the Premier League (871) averages 43.55 appearances per club and the Bundesliga's 18 sides afford under-23s 45.28 outings (815 total).

Nice make up the biggest share of the Ligue 1 appearances with a massive 121, but Lille (116), Lyon (99), Reims (96), Nimes (83), Toulouse (82), Rennes, Bordeaux (both 75), Metz (74), Monaco, Dijon (both 65) and Strasbourg (62) have all allowed youngsters to play more than 60 matches.

Of course, a key element of this is the lack of funds at many of these clubs and French football in general with the exception of Paris Saint-Germain, who, perhaps unsurprisingly, have entrusted the fewest games (30) to under-23 players in the division.

Nevertheless, only Nice (24y 41d), Lille (24y 111d) and Lyon (24y 288d) have a younger starting line-up on average than Lampard's Chelsea.

Harry Winks and Mason Mount scored their first senior international goals as England rounded off Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-0 victory in Kosovo, where Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford were also among the goals.

Tottenham's Winks provided the finish to a rare moment of first-half quality, although his combination with Declan Rice and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield did not always deliver the cohesion England need in their engine room.

Kane added a second 11 minutes from time and substitute Rashford swept home four minutes later.

Mount's late strike added gloss to the scoreline but Bernard Challandes' impressive Kosovo side can still reach the European Championship via a play-off place secured by virtue of their Nations League performance.

After matching England for long spells at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri they will be confident of making it count.

Frank Lampard says he always planned to bring through Chelsea's exciting young players regardless of the club's transfer ban.

Talented academy products Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have made the leap into the first-team this term following several spells out on loan.

An excellent run of results, including an ongoing seven-match winning streak, and a swashbuckling playing style have shown a heavy opening-weekend defeat to Manchester United to be a minor hiccup.

Fears about how Chelsea would cope without new signings have been dispelled, though head coach Lampard insists the handicap had little impact on his plans.

"I set out this season to see what these young boys could do," the Blues boss said ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup clash with United.

"If I didn't have a transfer ban and came to this club and had opportunities to bring players in during the summer, I still would have trusted the young boys.

"For me to have thrown that away after one game at Manchester United and a few opinions, that would have made me a bit of a flip-flopper."

Mount, 20, has led the arrival of the next generation, scoring four Premier League goals in 10 games and breaking into England's starting line-up. 

The midfielder learned from Lampard during a spell at Derby County last season and accepts a starting spot is not guaranteed despite the new direction.

"The manager tells us that we're not going to be given a chance just because we're young. We have to earn it," Mount said.

"But the fans have been calling for young English players for a long time and the backing they've given us makes us all want to give that extra yard on the pitch.

"People wrote us off at the start of the season and said we wouldn't do well without new signings, so we just need to keep proving them wrong."

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