Sean Dyche: Chelsea boss Frank Lampard’s boy Blues are ready for the Premier League, like Dwight McNeil

Tammy Abraham
Tammy Abraham

Sean Dyche could sense teenage winger Dwight McNeil was ready for the Premier League.

And the Clarets boss feels Frank Lampard has similarly put his faith in his young guns for that reason - not that the club are under a transfer embargo.

The Blues have served half of a two-window ban from FIFA in which they cannot register any new players above the age of 16, after breaking regulations over the signing of youth players.

That has seen Lampard turn to a number of academy products, including Tammy Abraham, 22, Mason Mount, 20, Fikayo Tomori, 21, Reece James, 19, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, 18, who recently returned from an Achilles injury picked up against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday.

Chelsea were able to bring in Mateo Kovacic for £45m from Real Madrid after a season long loan, as well as Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £58m, having agreed a deal in January, but Dyche feels Chelsea’s crop of talented kids are justifying their inclusion.

There is no magic formula to blooding young players, and Dyche explained his decision to field McNeil: “Some could break through quickly, like Dwight is a good example, some people won’t know he was training with us from being late 16, he’d had a year with us, not all the time, not every day, but a lot of time, so by the time he went in - the debate was whether he could have done with a loan spell first - but when I put him in, I could feel it, I could sense he was ready.

“I’ve been fortunate, when I look back, Kevin Davies was playing at Chesterfield with me at 16, Tim Cahill, Steven Reid at 18, Richard Sadlier at 19 at Millwall, Dave Livermore, so you forget.

“What made them ready? I could sense it on them.

“My point is, not me, I was playing, but management would have sensed that they were ready, and they were.

“I reflect on that, and you get the feeling. Others need more time, it’s just the way it is.

“The game has improved with that, and the Chelsea situation shows it.”

Abraham, Mount, Tomori and James all benefited from Championship loans last season, and Dyche added: “They’ve been there years, and they’re still classed as young lads, Tammy Abraham is 22/23, Mason Mount 20, Tomori 21, in my day, Kevin Davies was playing at 16.

“I was playing at 18, so it’s different how we look at young players now, the Premier League is that difficult, it often is to that level.

“I think Frank has made an informed choice because he worked with a couple last year and knows Tammy, and then partly the mix of what’s going on at Chelsea, combine the two and, if you’re ever going to get a chance to go for it, he’s picked the best time.”

But he wonders whether other elite clubs will follow Chelsea’s influx of youth: “Expectation lowers dramatically because of the embargo, so therefore that brings more freedom, if we’re ever going to play these lads, now is the best chance.

“If they do well, great, if not, everyone knows that is the challenge, and so far they’ve done really well.

“So it looks a positive story, but it’s the risk and reward, how many clubs will lower their expectations to get young players in the team? Not many I think.

“Everyone wants instant impact, but that’s advanced no end from when I was at Forest, playing Gary Charles at 19, Terry Wilson, Steve Chettle, all at once, with a Stuart Pearce, Des Walker, Nigel Clough was only 21.

“But the fans all bought into that and made it part of the club, that’s what we do, what we want.

“But most people now want to go on twitter and say: ‘We didn’t win today, why not?’”