Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has staunchly defended homegrown pair Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount after criticism from Jose Mourinho in the wake of their 4-0 hammering at Manchester United.
Former Blues boss Mourinho, speaking in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports, questioned the wisdom of including Mount and Abraham in the starting XI as Frank Lampard’s tenure as Chelsea head coach began in ignominious fashion.
Mourinho’s reasoning centred on the duo’s lack of top-flight experience when the likes of N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso were left on the bench on Sunday afternoon.
Azpilicueta said: “If they are here it is because they deserve to be. They are fighting in every training session. We trust in them.
“All the boys, they train to play for the Chelsea first team since they were young and now we have a massive opportunity to create a fantastic group, to learn from every game.
“Obviously, everyone would like to start in a better way but we have to face the reality and become stronger from it.”
Abraham and Mount started brightly at Old Trafford, the former rattling the post, and Chelsea were perhaps unfortunate to be trailing at the break following Marcus Rashford’s penalty.
However, the visitors unravelled once Anthony Martial had doubled United’s advantage after the hour mark, with further strikes from Rashford and substitute Daniel James adding gloss to the scoreline.
Azpilicueta has called on Chelsea to quickly draw a line under what happened on the opening weekend of the Premier League season ahead of a trip to Istanbul to face domestic rivals Liverpool in Wednesday’s Super Cup final.
The Spanish defender added: “We know that Chelsea always fights for everything. When you don’t win, the questions around get more and more but we have to cope with it.
“We know that playing for Chelsea requires your best effort in every game so we have to learn from the game.
“We know that we can improve. We have to face it, take the responsibility and move forward. We have a trophy to fight for on Wednesday against a good team and we have to be ready for it.”
- Press Association