Frank Lampard has credited John Terry with helping Tammy Abraham to establish himself as Chelsea's number one striker. Abraham will be given "every possible chance" to make his return from a hip injury when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old excelled on loan with Villa in the Championship last season, scoring 26 goals in a campaign that concluded with play-off final victory over Derby County, which was of course led by Lampard. Now back at Chelsea playing for his club's all-time record goalscorer, Abraham is enjoying the fruits of his development under Villa boss Dean Smith and his assistant – long-serving Blues captain Terry.
"It was an important loan for him to go to a big club, where the responsibility is strong on you as the main man up front to score goals," Lampard said, having given Abraham the nod ahead of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi at the start of this season - 10 goals in 13 Premier League appearances his reward.
"He obviously reacted well to that and scored a lot. He worked on his game. I saw that. He would have been all the better for working closely with Dean and John in that role there. It gave him confidence and it felt the right time for him to come back after that. Now he's had a few loans, he's scored goals, he’s proved it. It was very natural for the progression from my point of view for him to come back."
"What I saw last year in the EFL Championship impressed me, and what I saw from the first day of pre-season impressed me. That’s why I decided to give him the number nine shirt. I felt, even though people were questioning it because maybe it’s seen as something that’s not been a huge success, to give that burden on someone, Tammy seemed the right personality to take that. Fortunately to this point he's shown that he can."
Lampard said he expected it to be a "pretty emotional" occasion for Terry, as he returns to Stamford Bridge in opposition colours for the first time, the duo having played alongside each other throughout the most successful period in the club's history.
"I think we had a good relationship as captain and vice-captain," he recalled. "The minute I stepped into this club, John was clearly the next captain in waiting. He was almost it already. When Marcel Desailly left he stepped up. I had no problem with that."
"It allowed me to go about my work and to play the role of vice-captain and to captain the club on quite a few occasions and to some good success at different times. Our relationship was always good. There were no layers to it. We were good friends and respected each other as professionals and colleagues. That just remains the same."
Another former team-mate, Jody Morris, is acting as Lampard's assistant at Chelsea after filling the same role at Derby County. Terry's alliance with Smith meant embellishing that old-pals act was not considered. "It was never an option that was spoken about," Lampard said.
"I think John was very settled at Aston Villa. When I took the Derby job he was already on his own path then and they obviously got promoted in the summer. John was very comfortable there and working away. I had my team that I worked with here." Asked whether they might yet link up, Lampard added: "I can't guess the future. I don't know."