Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge has jumped to the defence of the experienced players at Stamford Bridge.
The club have come in for criticism of late after a tempestuous defeat at QPR was followed by a 5-3 loss against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
And, whilst critics have been quick to write off Andre Villas-Boas' side after falling nine points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City, Sturridge is confident that the old heads within the side can help create a resurgence.
"The disrespect I've seen towards the likes of JT and others is ridiculous. When times get hard, these are the sort of players who step up to the plate," the 22-year-old striker told Daily Star Sunday.
"It's not just the younger players people should be looking at, thinking they're the exciting ones. Ashley Cole, JT, Lamps, Didier - these are the players which keep the team going. They are the heart of the team.
"They have been here a lot longer than I have, or any of the younger guys coming through have. They're the ones who are paving the way for us. I can only look up to them right now."
Sturridge, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with Bolton Wanderers last season, believes these 'veterans' also have a role to play in helping guide the youngsters through adversity in west London.
With pressure greater than ever on both the players and manager, the club face a crucial set of fixtures leading up to Christmas, starting with the visit of Liverpool next Sunday.
"The younger players wouldn't be able to perform when faced with adversity - because we're not used to it. It's a big change for us," he added.
"But the older players have been through it. To have those players around the club makes your job so much easier."
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