Mason Mount fulfills four years of promise as Chelsea star handed first England start

Posted by


  Gareth Southgate has been in no doubt about Mason Mount since the first time he laid eyes on the Chelsea midfielder  Portsmouth-born Mount will make his first England start against Czech Republic on Friday night, in the Three Lions’ latest Euro 2020 qualifier   The 20-year-old is set to line up alongside best pal Declan Rice and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson at the heart of midfield  Mount has been in Southgate’s plans for some time.  Last October, while thriving on loan at Derby County – under his now-Chelsea boss Frank Lampard – Southgate called him up to the seniors, insisting he wasn’t just there to make up the numbers  But you have to go back four years for when England chief Southgate first realised the goalscoring midfielder would represent England’s senior side  Asked what he made of Mount this week Southgate declared: “Exactly what I thought of him when I saw him playing for our Under-16s  “He’s a quality player, an intelligent footballer, presses well, has a real eye for goal, good quality So, nothing I’ve seen surprises me at all.  “We’ve had him marked as a player from the first time I saw him at St George’s Park Chelsea would be the same on that, I think.  “Of course he’s now been able to have the opportunity to play in the Premier League and display that against top teams ”  Mount, who joined Chelsea at the age of six, made his Blues under-18s debut at 14 and in 2016-17 was featuring for both the U18s and U21s That year he starred as Chelsea won a second successive FA Youth Cup, captaining the side before winning the golden ball at the Under-19 Euros, as England emerged victorious in Georgia  The following season, the Under-23s wasn’t seen as enough of a step up by club bosses at Stamford Bridge, and Mount was instead sent on loan to Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie; 14 goals in 39 games followed, with Mount named the club’s player of the year  He also took the supporters’ award, following in the footsteps of fellow Chelsea loan rangers, Christian Atsu and Slobodan Rajkovic  But there was something different about Mount.  “We have been able to enjoy a great talent,” stated Vitesse technical director Marc van Hintum  “At Ajax there are no better players in the midfield, you know. No, not [Hakim] Ziyech either Mason has everything: work rate, stamina, tactical ingenuity, technique, depth (determination?) and dynamics He can put pressure and has scoring ability. He can even head.  “He has the right mentality and he is intelligent All conditions for a top career.”  Van Hintum’s hope of taking him back to Holland were scuppered however, when Lampard came calling and took Mount to Pride Park  Chelsea’s record goalscorer – whose name a young Mount would wear on the back of his shirt – played a key role in Mount’s move to the East Midlands; Ajax had also made a move, but the Championship slog and honing his craft under hero Lampard was seen as better for his development by both player and parent club  But it wasn’t just about development. With Lampard looking to make his mark in his first managerial role, there was pressure on Mount to shine from the off; he wasn’t joining Derby merely to grow, but to lead a side bidding for promotion and hoping for the Premier League  “We are always crying out in England for talented midfielders that can link play, are intelligent and score goals,” Lampard stated last August  “This is a great platform for him to play, at this club he’s going to get the pressure of 30,000 people at home games and travelling round in a difficult Championship, so that’s great grounding and work for him  “I think Mason can have a big future. What he can bring us is good quality and energy; we’ve seen it from the moment he walked through the door ”  Again it wasn’t long before he was impressing and within three months, as he learned of his call up to Southgate’s squad for the first time, Lampard set him a daunting challenge  “He’s obviously got over 100 caps [Lampard boasts 106] so he said to see if I can break that ” That tells you everything about the esteem in which Lampard holds a prodigious young talent who can already count 29 goals in 94 games in senior club football, who, in the fashion of his boss, focuses on keeping shots low and hitting the corners  Derby’s promotion hopes fell at the final hurdle, with a playoff final loss to Aston Villa at Wembley But over the course of the campaign, Mount had stepped up to the plate.  In 44 games in all competitions he scored 11 goals and registered five assists, averaging 0 24 goals, 2.37 shots and 3.07 successful dribbles for every 90 minutes played.  He also showed a penchant for doing the dirty stuff, leading pressing schemes and winning back the ball in good positions from which to counter, averaging 2 5 interceptions and 4.68 recoveries per game.  His importance to Derby was showcased in a nine game spell between February and mid-March where the Rams won jut twice in 10 games, failing to score in five of those outings On his return, against Rotherham, they won 6-1 with Mount scoring once and assisting another  Back at Chelsea, where Lampard replaced Maurizio Sarri in the summer, Mount has been handed his opportunity and has grasped it with both hands, first choice for Lampard whether Chelsea play 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or even 3-4-3 thanks to his talent but also his energy and work ethic, hustling and harrying  In 11 appearances – 10 starts – he has thus far managed four goals and an assist, while in elevated company his underlying numbers in attack remain similar or are even better than last year: 0 4 goals, 2.59 shots and 3.38 dribbles per 90.  “He was brilliant for me at Derby,” said Lampard last month “I did not expect this level but he he is improving daily.”  At club level, his form and the return of Callum Hudson-Odoi have ensured Mount has taken Ross Barkley’s place in Lampard’s preferred XI In Prague, it’s a case of déjà vu with his Chelsea colleague set to be the fall guy once more  England are well on course for the Euros next summer, but a failure to control midfield during the World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia and the Nations League semi-final defeat to Holland remains at the forefront of Southgate’s mind  With England cruising towards Euro 2020, the fixture in Prague would appear to represent a free hit  For Southgate and Mount, it’s been a long time coming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *