Frank Lampard backing Mason Mount and Declan Rice to be best of enemies

Frank Lampard is confident Mason Mount and best pal Declan Rice will be the best of enemies tomorrow night when their Chelsea and West Ham sides meet.

The pair are up together in the Blues’ academy and remain as thick as thieves.

But at Stamford Bridge both will be looking to pick the other’s pocket as they bid to get their respective sides back to winning ways.

“It’s healthy, it’s good,” said Lampard, when asked what it’s like to go up against someone you’re close to.

“The competitive nature will come out when you play against your friends.

Having met in Chelsea’s academy, Mount (left) and Rice have gone on to play for England together

“Those personal battles generate an extra level of competition between Mason and Declan individually and that’s fine, that’s how it should be.

“I don’t know Declan that well but they’re both young, hungry boys who want to do well for their team.”

Rice had to bounce back after being released from Chelsea’s academy and the fact he has gone on to become a Premier League player and England international is sometimes waved in the south-west Londoners’ faces.

But Lampard added: “The first thing for the academy is trying to produce players for the first team.

“The results we’ve had in the last couple of years are a great indication of their work for a long period.

Lampard is adamant the friendship will bring out the best in the two midfielders

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“But when other players go down other paths, the club should also take some credit for producing them to go and play professional football.

“When you see over the Premier League and Championship, there are lots of players who came through the Chelsea system.

“That’s the real positive for us.”

Chelsea’s fine start to the season had many observers talking them up as title contenders but back-to-back defeats by Everton and Wolves have set them back.

Lampard is experienced enough to know all teams will have a wobble during a campaign and that it’s up to him and older heads such as Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta to maintain the confidence is what is essentially still a young group.

Thiago Silva’s experience will be vital in helping Chelsea put their recent blips behind them

He said: “It’s a massive importance. It’s going to be a test of the players, a test of myself, because it’s my job first to pick the players up.

“What I saw of the two games, Everton and Wolves, it was things we were doing really, really well after Leeds.

“You could say we were in great form and we just dropped off a level in two games and got punished.

“We came off that a little bit, so it’s not as if we were doing things terribly, we were just doing them at 70 per cent.

But there’s not a player of Thiago or Azpi’s age or bracket in their careers — and Azpi is younger, obviously — who hasn’t been through a period.

“It might have been one loss that really hurt, it might be two, it might be a period and that’s something football clubs have to go through, particularly with the competitive nature of the Premier League now.

“The realism is we are not a Liverpool of last year or a Manchester City of the year before where you can just go out and win, win, win, win, win.

“In that period you have to be ready for some tough moments and when we’re in the good moments I’m always considering how to react when things turn because I know they will and that’s my job.”

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