Frank Lampard suggested Chelsea may be asking too much of Callum Hudson-Odoi but vowed to stick with the 19-year-old and protect him against criticism.
The England winger sparkled in his early senior appearances but has struggled to make an impact of late, failing to impress as he started a Premier League match for the first time in over two months in a 2-0 Boxing Day defeat to Southampton.
While head coach Lampard acknowledged Hudson-Odoi is yet to find the consistency required to be a Chelsea regular, he is determined to stay patient with the teenager.
"Maybe [it is about consistency], and maybe we're asking too much," Lampard told reporters ahead of the New Year's Day trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.
"Because at 19, there's not many in the Premier League that are playing every week, especially at a club like ourselves.
"He has competition in those areas, so his consistency needs to be in how he works, how he trains every day, how much pressure he puts on me to play him. That is one thing he'll strive for.
"From all the conversations I've had with him, he understands what he needs to do on and off the pitch, and I will certainly stick with him."
Hudson-Odoi was reportedly concerned by social media criticism after the Southampton game, but Lampard is confident Chelsea fans will back their player.
"I've not spoken to him about that, and unfortunately, with social media, that's par for the course," he said.
"It doesn't make it right or wrong. I haven't seen it, but that's something you have to have a very thick skin about.
"But I said it after the Southampton game: he's a young player, he's just 19, he's had a lot of talk about him for different reasons, which is not all of his doing. There's been a big microscope on him.
"I think we have to give him time and have patience with how young he is. I've got no problems with him. I thought he did well when he came on [against Arsenal], and I think that should be a nice little boost for him.
"I think Chelsea fans will be absolutely behind him. They want to see passion, they want to see those things as well as his ability to go by people.
"He needs to understand what's needed, and he's working on that constantly, and I'll back him and work with him on that."
Hudson-Odoi had been widely linked with Bayern Munich in January 2019 before agreeing to a new Chelsea deal, and Lampard is content the academy graduate has proven his commitment to the club.
"I'm not sure [if the Bayern reports are related to the criticism], but if that is the case, I think that will quite quickly go away," Lampard said. "It's up to him to put that to bed.
"He signed a really long contract here, declared he wants to be here. We're happy but now he has to produce."