Frank Lampard says he will take some time to speak to his youngsters individually after three of them suffered the fate of being substituted at half-time, in a move that helped Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Leicester City.
Leicester had been the better team before half-time, and Lampard decided to take off 19-year-old Billy Gilmour, 20-year-old Reece James and 21-year-old Mason Mount for Ross Barkley, Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic.
Barkley ended up being the match-winner as the Blues improved in the second half, with the other substitutes allowing Lampard's side to control the match.
Having started each of his side's last two games, Lampard cited tiredness in Mount's case, while his other two youngsters were said to be lacking match fitness in their first starts since the season resumed.
"I could have made different changes as well," Lampard said at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening. "Mason has played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Manchester City for 90 minutes.
"Reece James hasn’t played for a long time, since lockdown. Billy was the same. These are contributing factors around it. They are going to be top players for this club no matter what. They are going to have top careers in football. They will have really, really top careers because of the players they are.
"Whether you can call it a learning experience, it was just a factor of how I saw the game. They can take it on board. They are all good lads, all train well and all have a good work ethic. I’ve never had a problem with the three of them at all. I’ve got no worries; it was just the circumstances today."
Lampard has been lauded for his faith in youth in Chelsea's team this season, offering an all-time record eight academy products the chance to debut for the west Londoners in a single campaign.
This has come with contract renewals for most of them and a reduction in the average age of the squad, as the club navigated their transfer ban by leaning on one of the best youth systems in English football.
Lampard showed his ruthless side to his three youngsters, but he isn't blaming them and may take them aside in the next analysis session following the match.
"Yes, I possibly will [speak to them again]," Lampard added. "I spoke to them all briefly at half-time and the end because it does happen in football. This is what it is. Sometimes it’s a tough game for different reasons.
"I’ll happily speak to them. I have got no problem with them; it certainly doesn’t feel an issue where I can say they didn’t give me anything. The performance was lethargic for the whole team and they were part of that.
"But individually, it’s very tough to stand out when a performance is like that. I’ll say that to them; it’s not a problem. If it’s a bit of a learning one, then fine but if I had a problem with work ethic or attitude I’d say it. But I don’t have that with them. It will be a brief conversation and we will move on. They are going to be big players for us."
Following the match, Chelsea drew Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final, but next they face London rivals West Ham in the Premier League.