BY PAUL LAGAN
Ross Barkley reckons team-mate Mason Mount has what it takes to go right to the top of the football ladder with England – and likens him to club goal-scoring legend and current boss Frank Lampard.
Barkley came on as a sub in the disappointing 2-2 draw with Sheffield United but is full of praise for Mount, 20. He said: “I’m very pleased for him. He is a brilliant player.
“You have seen what he did on loan last season at Derby County and at the start of the season how good he is. And he is hungry to improve, hungry to score and hungry to help the team in any way he can, if it is out on the left, in the No10 or in a midfield three.
“He is very versatile. When he was in the England squad last season you could see he was willing to learn and work hard. His chance with England is coming now.”
England face Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday as the Blues head into an international break. Barkley is more likely to start than Mount in the Euro 2020 qualifier, but Barkley is convinced that Mount could play a key role for the Three Lions in next summer’s tournament.
Could he even be a starter for the Euros? Barkley thinks yes.
“Yeah, yeah definitely,” said the Liverpudlian.
“I believe he will be in the squad 100 per cent when it comes to that. Then it is down to him, but I believe he will be there [in the team] because of how good he is, and the things I have seen in training, pre-season and already this season.
“I believe he will kick on continually throughout the season.
“He will not be fazed, no, he is level-headed. He is always out there with me, Tammy [Abraham], the last few lads on the training pitch doing extra finishing. He has a really good technique with how he finishes as well.
Head coach Lampard scored 211 goals for the Blues in an illustrious 13-year career, and Barkley sees similarities between Lampard and Mount
“Yeah, he is similar,” he said.
“With a season under him last year you can see his development from last year and he has brought that here, and started the season really well. The way he arrives in the box and gets shots away early, it is similar to Lamps.”
Chelsea return to league action with a trip to Molineux where they face Wolves on Saturday week.
The Blues have won just one of their opening four league games.
Barkley concedes the club are in a transition period.
Of the draw on Saturday, he said: “We scored two goals in the first half which were gifted to us really. We conceded a goal early in the second half and then things just didn’t go our way from then on.
“We didn’t perform well as a team.
“You’ve just got to try and make things happen but we didn’t create enough chances and didn’t hit the target as much as we should have.
“We all know and we all spoke in the changing room after the game that we didn’t perform at the levels we can.”
Ex-Pimlico Academy student Abraham hit a brace but Barkley knows that more is needed from the team.
“Tammy scored two goals but he can’t win the game on his own,” he said.
“There’s a lot of talent in the changing room, the players we’ve got are unbelievable, but we just weren’t at the level we should be at.
“It’s disappointing without a game coming up quickly to change the way we feel right now, but we’ve got to be ready when we come back to go again.”
Barkley reveals that Lampard is not always Mr nice guy.
“He wants us to improve and perform at the level we should be,” he said.
“He’s not too nice. He can have a go, he has a go in training when things aren’t going well.
“The positive side of things is he trusts young players. As well as developing them he is implementing a new style of play with us. The early signs are that we’re improving.
“[Saturday] isn’t going to determine where we finish at the end of the season. We’re only four league games in. We’re going to come back after the internationals and try to lead by example in training and put better performances in.
“We’re going through a bit of a development phase at the minute but we can still perform really well over the course of the season and surprise a lot of people.”
Barkley also praised 18-year-old Billy Gilmour who made his Chelsea debut off the bench.
He said: “He’s a very confident young lad. As you can see the manager brought him on in a game where it could have gone either way.
He’s showed it in training by putting his foot in, creating chances and scoring goals. He’s got a big career ahead of him.”