Frank Lampard has urged Tammy Abraham to take advantage of Harry Kane’s injury to prove that he can step up and be England’s main striker.
The Tottenham Hotspur forward will be sidelined until at least April after needing surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his left hamstring.
It means that the 26-year-old could even be a doubt for the Euros this summer, should there be any complications in his recovery.
Abraham has been one of the stand-out English strikers this season, netting 12 Premier League goals and getting a call-up in the last round of international matches.
England play again in March when they take on Italy and Denmark in friendlies, and if Abraham continues in this form then Lampard thinks his number nine should be looking to push himself even further.
“He should always be thinking that. He’s not silly,” You know who your competitors are whether it is to get into our team or the England team. So those things you see the environment about yourself.
“What I love about Tammy is that it just won’t be Harry Kane, he would do well but he should be taking markers from Harry Kane’s game himself.
“Tammy will be watching every type of striker and trying to improve himself at all times. And that’s the only important thing because the rest will fall into place.
“It’s a start. It’s something he needs to keep going because he is probably at that stage now where everyone is starting to expect Tammy to play well, score and affect games in a big way. And that brings a new challenge and that is his one now.”
There has been something of a ‘curse’ on Chelsea’s number nine shirt over the years, while several players being given the number and failing to impress.
Fernando Torres struggled at times, while Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain both flopped during their stints with the Blues.
However, Abraham may have broken that curse with his performances so far, and Lampard admitted he wasn’t afraid to hand the 22-year-old the number.
“When the number nine shirt was available quite a few people around here were saying to me ‘ooh, be careful, that’s not always had the best feeling in different players here’,” Lampard said.
“It was my decision to give it to him purely on his personality in pre-season. I knew he was a good player and I liked him on the training ground but his personality is one that he was saying ‘yes please, I want that, I want to be Chelsea’s number nine.’
“I haven’t actually gone into the numbers of it but when that becomes a murmur or whisper then it becomes a slight negative.
“You’ve heard it about different shirt numbers in different clubs so when it was mentioned it made me think twice and go ‘oh, actually, what is the situation here?’ because he is a young boy.
“If you’re signing a 25 year old who has scored multiple goals in a different league or in the Premier League you might see it differently and it be a really easy decision but the question with a young boy is ‘does he need that pressure?’ My opinion was yes.”