Frank Lampard has again denied any favouritism towards Mason Mount after his selection for club and country came under scrutiny from a section of supporters.
The Chelsea boss has been staunch in his defence of the 21-year-old midfielder who has become an automatic choice in his sides for the last three seasons.
Yet despite showing form good enough to make 13 senior appearances for England before his 22nd birthday, Mount has come in for criticism, particularly after missing the decisive penalty in the EFL Cup shoot-out defeat to Tottenham.
Most recently England supporters questioned his selection, prompting more accusations of favouritism, despite Lionel Messi describing Mount as possessing “the potential to be one of the best” earlier this month.
Lampard believes the ease of social media to shout the odds from a safe distance has been a factor.
“Every individual is different,” he said.
“We have a huge fan base and social media has changed criticism.
“He makes really efficient decisions, he presses more than any midfielder I have seen.”
Mount first linked up with Lampard on a season-long loan at Derby where the midfielder played a leading role in guiding the Rams to the Championship play-off final.
And when Lampard swapped the managerial hotseat at Derby for Stamford Bridge the following season, the Blues academy graduate made 53 first-team appearances.
Mount’s importance to his manager has continued into this campaign despite a big influx of talent this summer. He has featured in every match bar one, and has been in the starting XI for all but three of those.
But Lampard insisted his selection is made on merit alone.
“I know that he has a lot to improve on, but he is a quality football player and is only going to get better,” he added.
“Any player doesn’t get favouritism, especially when there is competition in the squad.”