Frank Lampard says Chelsea will not be able to blame a lack of experience if they fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.
The Blues have seen their lead over fifth place cut to just one point in recent weeks, and they will drop out of the top four with defeat by Tottenham in Saturday's London derby.
Lampard has blooded a number of young players this season, with Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Reece James all becoming regular first-teamers.
But the former England international says Chelsea cannot use youth as an excuse for failing to achieve their objectives.
"I don't think it's inexperience," Lampard said. "You can look at the youth in the squad and perhaps that's an easy conclusion.
"Perhaps that's part of it but it's not easy to pinpoint. The clinical nature of not scoring, the sloppy nature of having a lapse which gives a team with one or two shots a goal, which has happened a couple of times at home. Is it experience, quality? There's a lot of things to it.
"This period is what all Premier League clubs suffer. As young players you have to be even more aware that it can affect their confidence, because they're new to the team and the eyes of the world are on them.
"It's a big deal and a test for the younger players and I think with the physical nature of the league over the course of the season then there were always going to be little dips.
"The players will certainly come out of it better. It's how they train, how they play. I believe in all of them and think they're all going to be top players for this club, but they have to keep pushing and get out of moments like this."
It has been suggested that Chelsea may struggle to keep hold of their star players if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
N'Golo Kante is among those who have been linked with other clubs, but Lampard is confident the Frenchman will stay put.
"We obviously want to keep our best players. Kante is an incredible player, everyone knows that," Lampard added.
"At the end of the day, no matter what the quality of the player, you want players who want to be here at Chelsea and push to close the gap upwards.
"It's a question for the end of the season. The player you mention [Kante] – we want to be adding to players like that."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.