The Blues boss, a former specialist in finishing, hailed another goalscoring midfielder who he is set to face on Wednesday in the Premier League
Frank Lampard thinks Jack Grealish’s good form is pushing him into contention for a first England call up, with his Chelsea side set to face the young midfielder’s Aston Villa outfit on Wednesday.
Grealish has four goals and three assists in his last eight games for Dean Smith’s side and the Blues will be looking to nullify his threat after two consecutive league defeats.
Still, Lampard was full of praise for a man who has hit the ground running since seeing his Villans side promoted to the Premier League.
“I think he’s doing it,” Lampard said of Grealish putting himself in the debate for a Three Lions call-up. “He’s playing at a level now where he is obviously forcing himself into the argument. It’ll probably be a matter of time.
“I never want to tell Gareth what to do but his performances at the moment of a really high level. He’s a big threat for us and a fantastic player. His game has really come on. He is a joy to watch when he’s not against you because he moves so well with the ball. He’s a really good player.”
Lampard’s upcoming match against Villa will also see him come up against Chelsea legend John Terry, who serves assistant head coach in the Midlands.
Terry’s Villa beat Lampard’s Derby County in the Championship Play-Off final to earn promotion last season. Terry has long been touted as a future Blues coach, but Lampard explained that he wasn’t sure if his former team-mate would return alongside him at some point.
“I can’t guess the future. I don’t know,” Lampard said before explaining why the former captain wasn’t considered for his backroom staff. “It was never an option that was spoken about. I think John was very settled at Aston Villa.
“When I took the Derby job, he was already on his own path then and they obviously got promoted in the summer. John was very comfortable there and working away. I had my team that I worked with here.
“I think everyone has their own route. It’s not that I’m surprised, it’s just a path he’s chosen. It’s working well alongside Dean at a very good club that he already had a link with from his final year playing there.
“I think it was a very normal thing for him to choose to do and I’m sure he’ll have a very long and successful career in coaching, management, in whatever way he wants to take it. We all have to start in our different ways and he’s starting well.
“It’s (Aston Villa) a good choice for me. He’s working at a good club with good surroundings and I’m sure he’s working every day, as we all do every day. It’s just his path. Every time I’ve met Dean, he’s been a gentleman.
“He’s a very nice man, good to talk to, very open when we’ve talked after the games that we played last year. Although it was so disappointing for us when we lost the play-off final at Derby, it couldn’t happen to a better man than Dean Smith and John working alongside.”
Chelsea’s match against Aston Villa will also mean a reunion for Tammy Abraham with some of his former team-mates after a season on loan at the club last season.
Abraham scored 26 goals in the Championship before being recalled to Stamford Bridge this campaign and Lampard watched on at his progress from Pride Park.
“He’d already scored goals in the Championship with Bristol City,” he added. “After that, he had a year at Swansea in the Premier League and a tough year where they obviously struggled and he didn’t get the goals he’s getting now.
“It was an important loan for him to go to a big club where the responsibility is strong on you as the main man upfront to score goals. He obviously reacted well to that and scored a lot. He worked on his game. I saw that.
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“He would have been all the better for working closely with Dean and John in that role there. It gave him confidence and it felt the right time for him to come back after that. Now he’s had a few loans, he’s scored goals, he’s proved it.
“It was very natural for the progression from my point of view for him to come back. I only knew Tammy from a distance when he was in and around the academy.
“All I saw was what I saw last year in the Championship, which impressed me, and what I saw from the first day of pre-season, which impressed me. That’s why I decided to give him the No.9 shirt.
“I felt, even though people were questioning it because maybe it’s seen as something that’s not been a huge success, to put that burden on someone, Tammy seemed the right personality to take that. Fortunately to this point he’s shown that he can.”