Fikayo Tomori is finding out the hard way how tough life in “men’s team environment” can be, with the Chelsea academy graduate stepping up from Football League loan spells to face the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in Premier League competition.
The 22-year-old defender has always been held in high regard by those at Stamford Bridge, but has been forced to prove himself elsewhere.
Stints at Brighton, Hull City and Derby have allowed Tomori to find the regular game time he required to further his development.
A breakthrough campaign is now being enjoyed at Chelsea in 2019-20, with senior England international recognition also coming his way.
Tomori admits he has had to learn quickly how to deal with the demands of life at the very top, with Liverpool’s star-studded side faced in UEFA Super Cup and Premier League competition early on this season.
“It is tough because you come up against different strikers and different systems that teams use,” the highly-rated youngster told Chelsea’s official website.
“Some teams might play two strikers up top, some may play one and then you have teams like Liverpool - we all know how Roberto Firmino likes to drop in, with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane running in behind so you need to have that concentration all the time.
“It’s about always being aware of what’s going on around you, communicating with team-mates around you to help them and make your job easier.
“Everybody knows that if you make a mistake in the Premier League, you’re likely to get punished so being able to stay focused and making sure you do everything at 100 per cent is another part that you have to grasp quickly.”
Tomori earned his spot at Chelsea after playing under current Blues boss Frank Lampard at Derby in 2018-19.
He feels better prepared for top-flight football, with Champions League outings also taken in, having been forced to cut his teeth in the sometimes uncompromising surrounds of the Championship.
Tomori added: “You’re suddenly thrust into this men’s team environment and playing against seasoned professionals who have played the game for 15 or 20 years in some cases.
“It’s a big transition because you have to train well, try to get yourself into the team and then you’re fighting every week for three points that could get you promoted, into the play-offs or save you from relegation.”