Ross Barkley admits that the emergence of Billy Gilmour, along with a number of other highly-rated academy graduates, is helping to keep more senior members of the Chelsea squad “on our toes”.
Frank Lampard has shown considerable faith in youth during his debut campaign as Blues boss.
His hand was forced a little when taking on a job that initially saw him working under the restrictions of a transfer embargo.
Chelsea have, however, been rewarded for giving home-grown talent a go, with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount thriving.
Gilmour is the latest teenage sensation to have burst onto the scene, with the talented Scot slipping seamlessly into the fold, and he is staking a serious claim for regular game time.
Barkley acknowledges as much, with the England international aware that nobody in Lampard’s side can take their place for granted.
He told Chelsea’s official website of Gilmour and an exciting crop of emerging talent: “He's a brilliant player and he’s shown that in training, from last season to now.
“He showed that fearlessness out there and you can see the quality he’s got. With more games, he’s going to improve and the quality he’s going to show will get better as well.
“The future is bright. It’s good, it keeps us on our toes.
“Top four is our target and as each game comes, we take our game plan into it and try to execute it the way we need to.”
Chelsea’s last outing saw them sweep aside Everton and former boss Carlo Ancelotti with the minimum of fuss.
A crushing 4-0 win allowed the Blues to cement a fourth-place standing in the Premier League, with confidence building again in a squad that has endured struggles for consistency at times in 2019-20 – particularly at Stamford Bridge.
“We were brilliant,” Barkley said of a welcome victory over his former club.
“We had a great result in midweek [against Liverpool in the FA Cup] and this was what we needed, another strong result at home, a clean sheet and a brilliant performance.
“Not only that, a lot of players chipped in with goals and we had a lot of chances. You could see on the pitch we were playing with confidence and hopefully we can continue with that now.”
Chelsea will be back in action on Saturday when they take in a trip to struggling Aston Villa.