04 Dec Lampard hails Abraham as striker enhances Stamford Bridge reputation
Frank Lampard hailed match-winning striker Tammy Abraham for shouldering an increasingly influential role at Chelsea.
England hitman Abraham headed his 11th Premier League goal of the season then laid on Mason Mount’s winner as Chelsea saw off Aston Villa 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Abraham hit 26 goals in 40 matches on loan at Villa last term and had the travelling fans singing his name at the final whistle in west London.
The 22-year-old now boasts a direct hand in a goal in all his 14 league games this term, leaving Lampard purring on his burgeoning Blues career.
“He’s a personality that’s growing in our dressing room every day with his enthusiasm and his will to win,” said Lampard.
“Tammy is a striker that’s near the top of the goalscoring charts in the league, he’s showing his all-round game, stretches defences, and he starts our press.
“And of course if a player’s on such a good run it’s normal that if they go out of the team that you can miss them, and today he came straight back in as he left off.”
Abraham shook off a hip problem to return to Chelsea’s starting line-up, having missed out on Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to West Ham.
The Chelsea academy product transformed the Blues’ attacking threat on his return, chesting down for Mount to volley a fine winner as well as taking his own goal neatly.
Lampard hopes he avoided another injury when hobbling off late on, before insisting he does not need to set the in-form striker any goal targets for the season.
Asked if he will challenge Abraham to hit a specific goal tally, Lampard said: “No, I don’t think I need to, he’s a hungry boy.
“I never set targets, it’s too much jumping into the future.
“All you say is, as they come, game after game, can you keep scoring, can you stay hungry and what can you do for the team. At the minute he’s doing it and he’s scoring goals.”
When quizzed on a possible injury for Abraham, Lampard added: “It doesn’t seem too bad in there, so I’m presuming that he’s alright.”
Lampard also revealed Ruben Loftus-Cheek is no nearer to a return from his long-term heel injury that has kept the England star sidelined since May.
“He’s had a few setbacks over the last two months; he hasn’t had a new one, but he’s not flying along as much as we would want, and it’s not for the want of trying from everybody,” said Lampard.
“For Ruben himself of course there’s nothing worse than being injured. But at the moment he’s no closer to being fit.”
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith warned that club captain Jack Grealish will suffer a serious injury unless the standard of Premier League refereeing improves.
Asked if he fears Grealish, the league’s most fouled player, suffering a significant injury, Smith replied: “If he doesn’t get protection, then yeah, you worry for him.
“You can’t have tag teams having a free whack at him all the time. The referees and the officials have to sort that out.
“The refereeing in the Premier League so far has disappointed me.
“I had expected to see a lot better. There’s been a tag team fouling Jack Grealish at times.”