Frank Lampard will be tougher than ever on Tammy Abraham after the Chelsea striker scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 victory over Wolves on Saturday.
Abraham moved to the top of the Premier League scoring charts with a fine treble at Molineux, following up doubles against Norwich City and Sheffield United to take his tally for the season to seven.
The 21-year-old, who spent time on loan at Bristol City, Swansea City and Aston Villa in the past three years, said after the match he hopes to make 2019-20 “my season”.
Abraham hobbled off in the 77th minute and was replaced by Michy Batshuayi, and Lampard warned the matchball hero will need to continue hitting the high bar he has set himself if he is to keep the Belgian and Olivier Giroud out of the side.
“I felt that knowing his abilities and watching him in the Championship have two great seasons and in the Premier League, I felt it was more than time for him to have his opportunity,” Chelsea boss Lampard said of Abraham.
“He needed to show it in pre-season and at the start of the season, hence he started at Manchester United.
“I have competition up there. I definitely don’t want to down-talk Giroud and Batshuayi because we need them as well and Batshuayi looked sharp when he came on and Oli always gives something of a high level, so it was up to Tammy to show it.
“I’ve got confidence in him and I’m prepared to give him chances, but even more now I’ll be tougher on him because he’s shown what he can do. So the moment he wants to come off that and think that goals will just drop at his feet will be a moment when maybe he will be rested, so it’s important he makes sure he stays on his game.
“I’m happy because I see him every day with a feeling like he wants to play every day, to score goals every day and that’s something a bit special. You don’t see that in all young players and it’s a great gift in him.”
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Abraham was left out of the England squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo, but Lampard thinks it will be impossible for Gareth Southgate to overlook the Blues youngster again if he maintains his form.
“The way he’s going it’s obviously going to put him in that bracket, without telling Gareth what to do,” said Lampard.
“To score seven goals in three games and be top scorer and play with the quality he’s playing in his all-round game – the three different types of goals he scored are exactly what you want from Tammy: a messy one, a good header and then a fantastic feet and finish goal.
“He has to sustain it and he has to get even better. He has to be hungry, which I know he is. He can never rest on his laurels because there is more work to be done and that England squad is a few weeks away. He needs to keep playing at that level and he’ll have a great chance, I’d suggest.”
Asked if he had talked to Abraham amid reports Nigeria are keen to offer him an alternative route into international football, Lampard said: “No. No, that’s not my choice. I know Tammy’s been in England squads before and I’m not surprised Nigeria would want him, but that’s a question for him I suppose.”