The highly-rated full-back was getting regular senior chances in 2019-20 having turned down the opportunity to join with Derby last year.

Reece James has shown that he snubbed Frank Lampard last season before enjoying a breakthrough effort under the Chelsea legend in 2019-20.

The 20-year-old defender is one of many academy graduates to have seen regular moments for the Blues this term.

Big things are expected of the gifted full-back, together with his delivery in the flanks having already drawn comparisons to England icon David Beckham.

Chelsea are expecting to see additional potential unlocked at Stamford Bridge, having nurtured James through their youth ranks and enabled him to pick up vital experience elsewhere.

A loan spell at Wigan at 2018-19 watched the England U21 global to have a taste of competitive action from the testing surrounds of this Championship.

He won many admirers during his time with the Latics — such as Lampard.

The existing Chelsea boss was eager to add James to his group at Derby a bit over 12 months ago, but a transfer strategy was snubbed and the pair have since been united in west London.

James, who’s taken in 25 appearances this year, told FourFourTwo of Lampard: “He wanted to sign me for Derby last January, but it did not go through. I was happy playing Wigan.

“It was great to know he graded me, although that was at Championship level, and when you get a big job in a Premier League team, occasionally minds can change. But we talked when he came and he said he wanted to give me an opportunity.

“I had been injured, and he advised me to return in the best shape possible. I am thankful that I have got to work with him.”

A move ban imposed on the Blues in 2019 has worked in the favour of James and his fellow academy graduates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gimour.

The chance to work under Lampard is also proving beneficial to people who once looked up into the Blues great when he was establishing a standing among the best goal-scoring midfielders British football has ever seen.

“I admired Lampard and all of the key leaders of this group when I was a child,” added James.

“Every other match, he would score a brilliant goal. When I discovered he was the supervisor, it was great — he is a Chelsea legend”

Lampard gets the Blues chasing down a top-four finish in the Premier League this year, while they’re also through the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and also have work to do in a Champions League last-16 experience with Bayern Munich they now trail 3-0.