Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted that the development of Kurt Zouma this season has taken him by surprise.
The Frenchman has impressed as back-up to central defensive partnership John Terry and Gary Cahill, and he played a key role in Sunday's League Cup success operating in midfield to encourage more praise from his manager.
"Zouma is playing more than I expected, more than he expected, more than everyone expected. So he's getting very important experience," Mourinho told reporters.
"We bought him because of his physical profile, but we were not happy with his tactical knowledge of the game. We trusted we could give that to him. In pre-season, I saw mistakes in Germany against Werder Bremen. Mistakes in Hungary against Ferencvaros.
"I thought 'No problem, it will take time.' He's bright, humble, wants to work and learn, listens and is intelligent, so he's had an acceleration in that process to bring him to a level where he is competing with Gary Cahill."
Chelsea return to action against West Ham United on Wednesday evening.