Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori says Liverpool stars Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah have been his toughest opponents in the Premier League.
Tomori, 22, spent last season on loan with Derby under Frank Lampard, but after completing a full pre-season with the Blues for the first time, he has now become a regular first team player.
The England Under-21 star has made 22 appearances this season and has admitted it has been a big “step-up” this season.
“It has been different for me this season, just because it is the Premier League and it is a step up. You have to be more focused and prepared, always alert,” he told Sky’s The Football Show.
Asked who his toughest opponent has been, he said: “In the Championship you have a lot of different strikers – some love it in the air or like to go in behind. But then I’m playing against [Roberto] Firmino and he’s dropping deep into midfield. Things happen a lot faster and mistakes are punished more harshly.
“Firmino was probably the most difficult [to play against] – along with Salah. Every time they got the ball, I was thinking, ‘This is a challenge but this is where I want to be – this is a chance to prove that I can play at this level’.”
Tomori has said that making the grade at Stamford Bridge has been made a whole lot easier by Lampard blooding so many of Tomori’s peers.
“Coming into this season, the young players felt we had an opportunity and the manager said he wanted to play youngsters,” Tomori told Jamie Redknapp. “Tammy (Abraham) and Mason (Mount) were scoring goals, I managed to get into the team, Reece (James) came back and started doing well after his injury.
“But being able to bounce off each other makes it a much more comfortable environment for us and we can relax and play our game. Then the experienced players like Antonio (Rudiger) and Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta), the ones who have been there and done it, sharing a changing room with Pedro who has won everything, it makes it easier to adapt and get to learn from these players,” he added.