Joe Cole has experience of playing alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi and so it was no surprise to our former attacker how well the 18-year-old fared on his full England debut last night.
Cole was a pundit for ITV as England beat Montenegro 5-1 in Podgorica and watched on as two Chelsea players, Hudson-Odoi and Ross Barkley, starred for the Three Lions who continued their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualification.
From his position as a forward player who often operated in a wide role for club and country, Cole knows what he is talking about when it comes to effective wing play. He explained what makes Hudson-Odoi such a dangerous operator from personal experience.
‘I actually trained with Callum when I was coming back from America,’ Cole said.
‘I was lucky enough to train with the Chelsea Under-18s, and I saw him first hand. He actually stood me up a couple of times! You can’t catch him. Even at an older age for a footballer you can sort your feet out and stop them going by you, but with that pace and power there’s nothing you can do.
‘With his quality once he flips it on his right foot and goes outside you he has gone. You have to be a very, very good defender to combat it.
‘The slight mistake he made in the first half for the [Montenegro] goal is a learning mistake. It’s something an 18-year-old would make. But what he brings you is power, pace, directness, and fearlessness. He is a great player and he can be even better. He needs to develop and he is getting better and better every time I see him.'
Hudson-Odoi went close to scoring in the second half and he did set up England’s second goal with an effort that Barkley skilfully turned in on the volley. The midfielder added to his tally after the break with another clinical finish and it capped a fine few days for Barkley, who also registered an assist last night and impressed against Czech Republic in England’s previous game.
‘He’s got the technique, he’s got the size, he’s got the physicality, and he’s starting to knit them all together,’ Cole said of Barkley.
‘He’s played himself into the England team, and he’s got every chance of playing himself into the Chelsea team. He’s got all the attributes to go and become a world-class midfielder.’
Barkley himself admitted he hoped he hadn’t taken the goal off Hudson-Odoi, with replays suggesting the ball was zipping wide before he diverted it.
‘I haven't seen the goal back and I'm not sure if it was going in, but if it was I will be disappointed because I know how gutted he [Hudson-Odoi] will be,’ Barkley said afterwards.
‘He thrives off scoring and assisting, but he is really happy with the performance and I'm happy he got a start because the sky is the limit for him.’