Daniel Sturridge has backed Chelsea's experienced campaigners to lead the club through any tough times on the field.
The Stamford Bridge club are already nine points off the pace in the Premier League after recent defeats at the hands of QPR and Arsenal.
Captain John Terry, experienced midfielder Frank Lampard and veteran striker Didier Drogba have all seen their performances called into question at times this season.
But 22-year-old England international Sturridge insists that Andre Villas-Boas' side need their old guard to help guide the younger players through the testing occasions they will face.
"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," Sturridge told the Daily Star Sunday.
Heart of the team
"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.
"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.