As Mason Mount embarks on his first major international tournament at the end of an exhausting campaign in which he won the Champions League and played 64 games, the Chelsea midfielder remains thankful to one man in particular.
Frank Lampard has been quiet in the six months since his sacking as head coach at Stamford Bridge but two days out from England’s opening game against Croatia at Wembley Mount has spoken about the messages they have exchanged since and why the 22-year-old’s success is “all thanks to” the encouragement of the Blues’ record goalscorer.
“He’s had a massive influence,” Mount said. “Obviously the faith he put in me, to bring me to Derby first of all, was invaluable. That experience in the Championship really, really helped me and then going back to Chelsea the faith me showed in me to play me, even in the tough times to stick with me, gave me a lot of confidence.
“And, yeah, we’ll always stay in contact. I message him now and then. He’s obviously a busy man but we message and the amount of support he’s given me has really helped me improve as a player and as a person off the pitch. It’s all thanks to him.”
Mount is playing down the physical toll the season has taken despite spending close to 4,500 minutes in action for club and country. While Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said last month that the midfielder needed some rest after the Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid, heavy legs and minds will be no excuse come Sunday afternoon when he will come up against clubmate Mateo Kovacic at Wembley.
Southgate offered his Chelsea and Manchester City players five days off following the Champions League final, meaning they missed the scrappy friendly wins over Austria and Romania.
“We’re a young squad,” Mount added. “We’ve played a lot of football some of us but I think when you’re coming into a major tournament playing for your country all of that goes out the window – that tiredness in the legs, the long season, you don’t really worry about that.
“All you’re worrying about is doing well, going far in the tournament, and performing to the best of your ability and, as I said before, making the nation proud watching at home and everyone getting together and supporting us. That’s the most important thing.”
Temperatures are forecasted to be 28 Celsius at kick-off and England’s players have been training in mid-afternoon to adapt to the conditions with the backroom staff monitoring the squad’s fluid intake.
“We spoke a little bit about it,” Mount added. “Look, we all have little things we can do to help it but when you’re playing football and it’s the heat of the moment – literally – in the game, the pressure’s on, you’ve got to kind of put that at the back of your mind.
“Obviously it’s going to be tough at two o’clock, it’s going to be a tough game, but we’re ready and I think a lot of the boys have had experience in the past of dealing with this, playing in heat or any other circumstance. We’re ready and I don’t think it will play a big part in the game.”