Frank Lampard said he “believed and trusted” in striker Tammy Abraham as he prepared to unleash his young players against Valencia in Chelsea’s Champions League opener on Tuesday.
Abraham, 21, scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win at Wolves on Saturday but his form has come as no surprise to Lampard.
“I never had clear expectations for him apart from the fact that I believed in him and trusted him,” he said at a press conference on Monday at Chelsea’s training base.
“I know a lot was made of the (transfer) ban giving opportunities for young players. But I thought now was his time.”
As for the possibility of England missing out on Abraham should he opt to play for Nigeria, Lampard said: “That’s not a question for me.
“He has put himself in a bracket by being a top-scorer in England. It is one for (England boss) Gareth (Southgate) but it is clear Tammy will be wanted.”
Abraham who is the Premier League’s joint leading scorer alongside Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero with seven goals, has two senior England caps won in friendlies.
Nigeria have been hoping Abraham can be persuaded to switch allegiance to them.
And when asked about the Nigeria interest, he was quoted by the Telegraph newspaper as saying: “I have heard the talks and I’ve not really been focused on that yet.
“I think when the time comes, the time comes. We never know.”
Lampard has put his faith in youth during a transfer embargo for the club and has been rewarded with some impressive performances.