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Chelsea Loan Army general Eddie Newton most impressed by the other side of Mason Mount

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From adversity to stardom — Eddie Newton explains why Mason Mount has impressed him so much

Derby County v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

It’s hard to predict how young players will develop, but Mason Mount is giving every indication that he’ll be able to make the jump to elite football at some point in his career. As a key player for Frank Lampard’s Derby County team this season, the 19-year-old’s scored five times and added an assist in 18 appearances so far this season.

I don’t want to heap it on Mason but his quality, his talent and his work rate means he can be very special. Even if he is having a game where he can’t affect anything, his work rate without a ball is outstanding and that’s what picks him out.

-Frank Lampard; source: Mail

Last season Mount served notice to the football world by scoring five goals in just three Europa League qualification playoff matches. He finished his season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem with 13 goals, 10 assists, their Player of the Season award, and a huge surge in demand for his services this season.

Success seems preordained for the young man. But this time last year, when he rode the bench for four of Vitesse’s first five matches, it hardly was. Accustomed to the plaudits of excelling for Chelsea’s youth teams, Mount couldn’t crack the Eredivisie mid-table side’s starting lineup for three months. It was sobering. It was character revealing.

And it’s part of the reason Chelsea have so much belief in him now, led by the man who oversees all loanees from back at Cobham, Eddie Newton, Chelsea’s loan player technical coach.

“Mason didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. He wasn’t [regularly] involved in the first XI nearly up to December. He found it very difficult to take that because he’d been the superstar in the youth ranks and was thinking he would step right into Vitesse.”

It’s almost a truism that budding stars from the Chelsea Academy go to Vitesse for their first senior team football and struggle to make an impact. They may think they’re ready, but they may be in for a harsh reality check. Such was the case with Mount.

“When speaking with the manager [Henk Fraser], he liked him a lot but just saw some deficiencies in his game from academy football, things he could get away with at youth football and not so much at senior.

“All our young players get challenged mentally because they are so used to winning, so used to having big spells with the ball and large percentages of possession. When they go to senior football, it is not the same. It is a totally different thing. The challenge that faced Mason was that he had also been dropped. It was the first time in a long time that he had been in that situation.”

Another truism is that at the highest level of any sport, the mental game becomes as important as the physical game. If the head and the heart aren’t right, the football will suffer.

Mason Mount? His head and his heart are exactly where they need to be.

“He had to fight to get himself back in. He had to establish certain things he had to improve on in his physiology to compete, stop doing things he was getting away with in junior football and simplify his game in certain areas of the pitch.”

And fight he did.

“I found out another side of Mason. I really enjoyed watching the stubbornness and the fight to work his way back into the side. He listened to [assistant loan technical coach] Tore Andre Flo and myself when we visited, when we were telling him what he had to do and what he had to establish.”

-Eddie Newton; source: Evening Standard

A player who listens. A player who learns. A player who grows.

Pair that with prodigious talent and that late-season outburst in the Netherlands becomes easier to understand, as does his excellent start under Frank Lampard. Wednesday will be another mental test for the 19 year-old. It’s hard to believe he won’t be ready for it.

Barring a nagging foot injury, at 7:45pm Greenwich Mean Time, Mason Mount will step onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge to play senior team football. It won’t be with the club he hopes to be a star for someday. His Chelsea ambitions remain a work in progress. But it’ll be close enough that he can taste it (which is one reason why Chelsea gave Derby permission to play him).