Frank Lampard labels Chelsea's first-half display vs Leicester the worst of his reign as he backs subbed trio

GIUSEPPE MURO, George Flood
PA

Frank Lampard insists young Chelsea trio Reece James, Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour will bounce back after all three players were substituted at half-time during Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final win over Leicester City.

The Blues produced a hugely underwhelming first-half display at the King Power Stadium, with Ross Barkley - the eventual match-winner who was introduced at the interval - later revealing the players were told by their manager that they were not performing well enough to represent the badge.

Things improved in the second half as Lampard - whose frustration during the opening 45 minutes was clear to see - lent more on experience, with Barkley notching the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute to seal Chelsea's 10th FA Cup semi-final berth in 19 seasons.

Lampard subsequently described that "lethargic" first half as the worst the team have performed under his guidance and said he could have changed almost the entire team as he offered contributing factors behind the below-par displays of James, Mount and Gilmour in particular.

“In the first half, we have not played that badly since I have been here this season," he said. "We were fortunate at half-time that they did not take some of their chances.

"That is was 0-0 was the only plus at half-time. I made three subs and could have made seven, eight, nine. I needed a change.

“I could have made different changes as well. In Mason’s situation, he has played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Manchester City.

"Reece James has not played since lockdown and Billy the same, so there are contributing factors around it. They are going to be top players for this club and are going to have top careers in football.

Young Chelsea star Billy Gilmour joined Reece James and Mason Mount in being substituted at half-time against Leicester (PA)

"Whether you can call it a learning experience . . . it was just a fact of how I saw the game. They can take it on board. They are all good lads, all train well, all have a great ethic and I have no problem with any of them, at all.

"So I have no worries, it was just the circumstances today.”

Christian Pulisic came off with a tight calf in the second half against Leicester but Lampard said he hopes the problem is nothing serious.

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