The Premier League is so much more than an “English” football league these days — just as the teams in it are so much more than just local clubs — but until we reach the utopia of a borderless, unified, post-nationalistic human society, the concept of national teams and international football will continue to exist and will continue to be a source of pride for those involved.
Case in point, Chelsea’s England internationals. After the Old Guard faded away and Gary Cahill stopped getting picked, first by Antonio Conte then by Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea were reduced to fringe contributions to the England national team from the likes of the oft-injured (and loaned out) Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the oft-terrible Ross Barkley. In fact, our biggest contribution was allowing assistant coach Steve Holland to join Gareth Southgate’s staff, first on a part-time basis, then in a full-time capacity.
But as Chelsea are starting to reap the benefits of a growing young core, England are paying attention. For the upcoming international break, no fewer than four Chelsea players got the call, including three of the new, homegrown young core, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, and Fikayo Tomori. Mound and Abraham had been called up before, but Tomori’s pick is no less deserved.
Lampard was obviously chuffed to see the youngsters’ hard work rewarded in this manner as well.
“I might need to remind them that come Sunday, they need to perform for Chelsea, because it is great news for them but it is just the start and the minute any standards drop or any complacency kicks in then they will all suffer. But I am pleased they are smiling and they need to use that to add to their armoury and say okay, I am in the England squad now so I need to show even more, day in day out for us.
“It is well-deserved. [Tammy] is scoring goals regularly and everyone knows his form is really good for us. I think he has probably been in the equation all season for Gareth because of how he has played and it is a natural progression for him. I am delighted because I know he is proud to get a call-up.
“The work has only really begun for him because he is a young player, so I want to see him continue playing in the same vein for Chelsea and scoring goals and then naturally when he goes to the England squad, he has all the attributes to go there and be successful, but it will be another step for him. I am sure he has the attitude to take that challenge of being a goalscorer for England and there is competition there. He will see there are great strikers in that squad already and it is a good challenge for Tammy.”
This probably puts an end to any rumors of Tammy turning out for Nigeria instead, and the same goes for Tomori, who was also eligible for Canada in addition to the Super Eagles.
“Rightly so, Mason and Tammy have taken a lot of the headlines this season so I am absolutely delighted for Fikayo. Seeing him at Derby last year, he turned up as a quiet lad, there were loads of great talent in him but slightly raw. He had had a loan at Hull which was so-so and then to see him play the full season last year, I relied on him hugely.
“Then he came here when some people would have easily doubted whether he would step up to the Premier League because he is young, yet he has shown great quality. The England squad is another natural progression and I am really pleased with him because he deserves it and he has been a dream to work with day in day out for the last 15 months or so.
“It is all up to him now whether he gets in the England team but he has made the step of being in the squad. Gareth wants to see him close up, wants to see him train. Steve Holland [England assistant and former Chelsea coach] knows him well so now it is in Fikayo’s hands to go there and show what he shows us every day.”
One player who was absent from Gareth Southgate’s plans this time, despite making his international debut already earlier this season was Callum Hudson-Odoi, who instead joined the England U21 squad alongside fellow Chelsea Academy graduates Reece James, Marc Guehi and Trevoh Chalobah.
According to Lampard, who spoke directly with Southgate about the call up, Callum’s absence was due to the lack of playing time he’s had because of the Achilles injury, from which he has just recovered. It’s a reasonable excuse, to be sure, and with regular playing time, Hudson-Odoi will surely rejoin the Three Lions as well.
“I spoke to Gareth and all I can do is say what I see from a Chelsea end and it is Gareth’s choice. Callum has probably not played enough games and the international games will do him good. It is England Under-21s and he should be proud of that anyway.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
We should of course not forget about Chelsea’s fourth senior England international, Ross Barkley, nor any of the others who got called up for their respective teams, such as Christian Pulisic for the USA, Michy Batshuayi for Belgium, or Jorginho for Italy.
Please don’t get hurt!