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Tuchel: Mount and James would have been stars even without Lampard

The home-grown duo were given their chance at Stamford Bridge under Lampard, who placed a youth drive at the heart of his 18-month reign.

James and Mount are seen by many as the legendary former midfielder’s legacy, after so many academy products failed to make the breakthrough.

But Tuchel, who comes up against his predecessor when Chelsea play at Everton on Sunday, insists the pair were always too good not to make it.

“I don’t know if it is gratitude [to Lampard],” he said, following last night’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United. “I don’t think Frank did it to do them a favour. I think every coach does it because it is all about helping the team. It is not about age. When you are ready, you are ready. I strongly believe you find your way if you have what it takes.

“I am very grateful for the quality the academy produces and grateful for the culture at Chelsea to push these boys through — and this is top, top quality.

“It is our job to let them play and to prepare and push them on this kind of level. This is what Chelsea is about.”

Tuchel will meet Lampard for the first time at Goodison, when Chelsea could plunge Everton into deeper crisis at the bottom end of the table.

The Merseysiders are two points from safety with a game in hand, but with Lampard managing just three wins in 12 Premier League games, their form is alarming.

Tuchel was parachuted in at Chelsea in January last year, as owner Roman Abramovich desperately looked to salvage the season after Lampard’s reign went into free-fall. The Blues manager revealed at the time that the man he replaced immediately reached out to him.

“He sent me a very kind, respectful message after I took over — and that meant a lot,” he said. “I was a huge fan of him as a player and he is, and will remain, a legend at our club. This is a given.

“I was very happy when he wrote me that message and it was very gentlemanly. We didn’t have the chance to go and have lunch and he took the chance to go and take charge of Everton.

“It is a very exciting week for me, I would love to meet him. We need the points, they need the points urgently as well. I am excited to go there and we expect a tough fight.”

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