Frank Lampard declared that Reece James will become “a big player” for Chelsea after the youngster’s excellent debut.
James, who impressed on loan at Wigan last season, recently recovered from an ankle injury.
He has been tipped to be a major star at Stamford Bridge and the right-back justified the hype with an outstanding display in the 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby in the Carabao Cup.
James scored and set up two of the other goals – and Blues boss Lampard believes there is plenty more to come.
Lampard, whose team will face Manchester United in round four, said: “His game will get much better – he’s been out a long time and has only played minimal minutes for the Under-23s.
“Reece’s performances last year at Wigan showed the talent he’s got. I think he’s going to be a big player for this club.
“He’s got a great player in his position to look up to in Cesar Azpilicueta and as he improves and works hard – and he will do…he showed real quality. That’s just the start for Reece.”
Lampard described teenage midfielder Billy Gilmour’s first start as “a fantastic debut” and praised Marc Guehi, Ian Maatsen and Tino Anjorin, who also made their senior debuts.
And there was a goal for Callum Hudson-Odoi on his return to the side following a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The England international took a while to get going but was much more effective in the second half.
“In the second half he managed to get in better positions,” Lampard said.
“Callum’s talent means that he has to absolutely work hard to run behind people.
“If he wants to play in the team week in week out that’s what he’ll have to do.
Lampard also confirmed that Olivier Giroud has been absent from the squad for the past couple of matches because the striker has been ill.