Frank Lampard has told Christian Pulisic and the rest of Chelsea’s bright young things that hard work and performances always trump reputations and ‘back stories’.
USA star Pulisic was a £58million January signing who arrived in the summer after being loaned back to Borussia Dortmund – and was handed the task of helping ease the pain of Eden Hazard’s exit.
It has been Mason Mount, however, who has assumed the mantle.
And the backing Lampard has given the academy graduate has given rise to accusations from some Pulisic supporters in the USA that the Blues boss is favouring homegrown stars.
Lampard, though, has challenged Pulisic to train harder and follow Callum Hudson-Odoi’s lead, after he responded to similar flak.
Lampard said: “One of my problems in this job is that I have good players and everyone has their story – Christian has a price-tag, Ross Barkley is an international player, so too is Mason Mount.
“Callum Hudson-Odoi has just signed a new contract, Bayern Munich wanted to buy him, he is an international player, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will come back and be an international player… and I can’t pick them all in the game, unfortunately.
“All I have to demand of them is that they show me in training or show me in the game, when they get the chances to play, that they are worthy of their place.
“I spoke to Christian two days before the Grimsby game and was very clear about the standards. And we have to give him the fact he has moved country, leagues and is as young as all the young players we are talking about.
“He has just turned 21. So if anyone is getting too excited about this, they should calm down, frankly, because he has already started five games for us.
“What he needs to do is work daily, and work to show within the group that he deserves to play – as all the players do.
“I’ve been really pleased with Callum’s response to criticism and that has to continue.
“We can all focus on Pulisic, but Callum’s the same. I have to speak in the real world when I speak to them.”