Patrick Bamford believes his former side Chelsea could have had their own Dele Alli and Harry Kane in Nathaniel Chalobah and Dominic Solanke, had they only given the young duo a chance.
While Chelsea have dominated youth competitions in recent years, winning the last four FA Cup Youth Cups and back-to-back Uefa Youth League titles in 2015 and 2016, the pathway to the senior team has remained closed.
Solanke was a key figure in some of those successes but made just one solitary appearance for the first-team. After winning the Golden Ball award at the Under-20 World Cup in July, the 19-year-old left Stamford Bridge to join Liverpool, where he has already made two appearances off the bench.
Chalobah also cut ties with the Blues this summer, signing a five-year deal with Watford. The former England Under-21 international was named in the senior Chelsea squad when he was just 15 but had to wait six years for his club debut in September 2016 having had six loans spells away from the club during that period.
While Chelsea have struggled to find a place for young English talent in their squad, rivals Tottenham Hotspur have built their attack around two in Alli and Kane. Bamford, who left Stamford Bridge without a senior appearance to his name to join Middlesbrough in January, believes his former side are continuing to run the risk of missing out on unearthing to gems of their own.
"People talk about Dele and Harry Kane. But there are so many young guys out there who I am sure would be able to do similar things," Bamford told The League Paper. "They just don't get a chance. Look at Nathaniel Chalobah. He's gone to Watford now, he is playing regularly. I think the Premier League will see exactly what he is about now. He is going to be a top player.
"Players like Dom Solanke, who I've seen in the youth set-up at Chelsea. Quality player. He's gone to Liverpool and he's already getting a good chunk of game time.
"The crux of it all is having that trust and belief. Saying 'I'm going to give the youth players a chance' and you know what? The fans love it. It's all 'he's one of our own' and they get far more excited about it than a new signing."
After being recalled by Chelsea in 2015 following a spectacular first loan stint at Middlesbrough, Bamford was farmed out on three consecutive loan spells with Premier League sides but managed just two starts during his time at Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Burnley.
Looking back on his own struggles before his return to Middlesbrough at the start of the year, he recalled: "Whenever I've got a run of starts, I've scored goals. But wherever I went, nobody gave me a look in. A lot of the time, managers take you on loan because it is a cheap option for cover. You're literally there in case someone gets injured.
"You speak to the manager, you ask what you need to do. He says what you want to hear. But the fact is, it is a lot easier for a manager to leave out the young guy on loan than it is somebody who cost £15m or is on a three-year contract."