ENGLAND legend Frank Lampard has cheekily challenged whizzkid Mason Mount to beat his international caps tally in the years ahead.
That’s a quite an ask considering the Derby manager made 106 appearances for the Three Lions in an illustrious 15-year career for his country.
But Mount, on a season-long loan with the Rams from Chelsea, has made quite a start.
He’s not 20 until the New Year and has already impressed during a hugely successful season in the Netherlands with Vitesse Arnhem.
And he’s earning rave reviews with his performances in the Championship this season.
“He’s obviously got over 100 caps and he told me to see if I could break that”
Lampard has already tipped Mount to become a regular at Stamford Bridge in the next few years and believes he’s also on course to become a key figure with the national team.
But when he broke the news to the teenager that he’d become the latest football fledgeling to be drafted into Gareth Southgate’s squad, Mount didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“I actually found out before he pulled me in the office,” said the midfielder. “He was sitting there with Jody Morris (his No. 2) and was asking me about the Norwich game on Wednesday.
“He said he was thinking of dropping me and maybe giving me a rest. Then he smiled and said, ‘I’ve just spoken to Gareth. You’ve been selected for the seniors’.”
Lampard’s sense of humour was evident again a few moments later when the Derby boss set Mount a new target.
“He’s obviously got over 100 caps and he told me to see if I could break that!” revealed Mount.
“But seriously, he’s given me loads of advice so far and I’m just trying to take it all in. It’s a long season and I’m going to learn so much off him.”
Mount is the latest example of a modern trend for youngsters to gain England recognition at senior level before they’ve made their mark at club level.
And he admits that following his spell in Holland, this year was all about getting games under his belt in the Championship rather than establishing himself with Chelsea, let alone England.
He added: “I thought I needed to keep playing as many games as I can. That was my goal this season.
“Maybe the opportunity at Chelsea wasn’t there so I had to get out on loan and obviously with the gaffer and Jody here, there was an opportunity for me to play quite a few games.
“Being chosen for England was a surprise for me as I’m playing in the Championship.”