Fikayo Tomori has not played since starting against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup loss back in September. He’s not alone in being a center back without much action, joining Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger on bench duty (if that) behind the preferred pairing of Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma — though Rüdiger seems to have walked himself back into Lampard’s plans somewhat lately.
It wasn’t supposed to be quite like this, but neither Rüdiger and Tomori ended up moving in the final hours and days of the transfer window, which has made it harder for both of them to collect any meaningful minutes.
With Rüdiger seemingly ahead as the primary backup, the future of Tomori has come under increased scrutiny and questioning. But as far as Lampard’s concerned, it’s not such a dramatic situation.
“Fikayo is our contracted player. We know that West Ham were interested in taking him on loan late in the window. Fikayo took the decision not to go and that’s well within his rights. That had no bearing on my thoughts at all.
“For him, he’s still a developing player. When I say developing he’s had a great two years. He got himself in the England team, was one of the best defenders in the Championship and then played 20-plus games for Chelsea.
“It’s normal for a young player sometimes, in a squad as competitive as ours, where there are periods where you maybe aren’t playing every week. That’s the modern-day younger player in these sort of squads and that’s another test for you in terms of how you handle yourself and train and keep working and waiting for your time to come back in.
So what does the future look like for Tomori now?
Lampard doesn’t have much answer beyond the usual ‘train hard, impress, grab your chance’ formula. Tomori did do just that last season (especially early on), not to mentioned to season before, when he was named Player of the Year for Lampard’s Derby County.
“I’ve got no problem with Fikayo. I rely on him. That’s clear from when I took him to Derby and how I handled him last year. It remains the same with him. He’s been a fantastic player for me, so I just see this as part of his development.
“He trains very well every day and when he gets his opportunity like he had when he came on against Liverpool earlier in the season and in the Carabao Cup, it’s important he takes them in the way he has done.”
- Frank Lampard; source: Goal
Chelsea appear to have found a winning formula, but that doesn’t really include Tomori at the moment. With every game important either in the Premier League or the Champions League, there’s not much opportunity these days just to rotate players for the sake of rotation.
Still, we’d like to see Tomori given a few more chances now and in the future. We know his talent already; would rather not have it stagnate.