Carlton Cole hopes Tammy Abraham will take his big opportunity to impress as Chelsea’s No.9 after Frank Lampard made the decision to start the 21-year-old as his main striker against Manchester United.
The Blues were defeated 4-0 at Old Trafford but there were positive signs as the likes of Abraham and Mason Mount showed glimpses of their potential.
Like Abraham, Cole was an academy graduate at Stamford Bridge but struggled to get opportunities in the first team with Didier Drogba, Hernan Crespo and Eidur Gudjohnsen all competing for a first-team spot.
Lampard was also a team-mate of Cole’s and he has given a chance to a host of academy players as the Blues aim to cope with the transfer ban imposed on them by FIFA.
And, as a result of that ban, Cole is hopeful that Abraham takes the opportunity he feels he never had in west London.
“I wish I was coming through at Chelsea with a transfer ban,” Cole told Goal at the finals of the #BetRegret Cup, part of the nation’s largest safer gambling campaign. “This is an excellent chance for Tammy Abraham.
“When I was out there, I was fighting for my life. Hopefully, these boys from the youth team can grasp this chance to make a good account of themselves.
“They have to have the desire to realise what a big chance this is. I would have loved this chance when I was back there. Can you imagine if I had an opportunity like this? I never had that. You need a run of games to show what you can do.
“You will see that these boys will definitely get their chances, the next question is, will they take it? For Tammy, he knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I hope he will take his chance. He is a good player. He still has a lot to learn but where’s the best place to learn it?
“Under someone who believes in you and who thinks you can do well for him. The thing is that Lampard also has no choice but to believe in him. He is in a win-win situation, Abraham, but he must believe in himself.
“He has to do something for Chelsea by the end of the year. This is a big stage. He was brilliant at Aston Villa but this is a promotion. This is the big time.”
Cole went on a series of loans at Chelsea before signing for West Ham in 2006 to begin his most productive spell in football. He earned international recognition during his time with the Hammers and has returned to the club as a coach for the Under-18s side.
Manuel Pellegrini splashed the cash to sign Sebastian Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer and Cole is confident that the Frenchman is capable of being a bit hit in the Premier League.
“From what I have seen of him so far, I think he is a top, top player. I think Manuel Pellegrini has bought very well there,” he added.
“I think he can fill the void that we have been having over the last couple of years. Andy Carroll hasn’t been fit to play.
“He would have been our main go-to guy to hold up the ball and bring others into play. We were missing that. We know we have a focal point of attack and we can build off him. We have other players like [Manuel] Lanzini, [Pablo] Fornals is a great signing and prospect.
“Jack Wilshere is like a new signing. Declan Rice will keep improving and Mark Noble spurring on the boys. So listen, we are looking good. Our defence is not too shabby as well.”