Callum Hudson-Odoi has found himself on the periphery of the Chelsea team in recent weeks but he came on at Manchester City last weekend and had a hand in our dramatic winning goal.
In his early weeks of charge of the Blues, Thomas Tuchel favoured Hudson-Odoi as his right wing-back of choice, including in the impressive away wins against Tottenham and Atletico Madrid in February.
However, since the beginning of last month, Hudson-Odoi has featured just three times in our past 11 games, with only one of those appearances, against Crystal Palace, from the start. At the Etihad on Saturday, it was his pass that slipped in Timo Werner to set up Marcos Alonso’s goal, with Hudson-Odoi coming close to applying the finishing touch himself.
That was his first involvement for almost three weeks, and Tuchel explained some of the reasons for the 20-year-old’s lack of minutes of late.
‘In the last weeks there have been some tough decisions against him, because we played many times against a back five,’ noted Tuchel.
‘We relied a bit more on learned defensive guys like Azpi and Reecey, and did not take the risk to play against another back five with Callum as a wing-back.
‘On the inside position, where he played against Man City, this is maybe his best position. We agree on that. The big change and the big impact he had when we brought him on was not only one action; within one action it was two or three accelerations and decelerations.
‘From his position it’s about assisting, it’s about scoring. We don’t need to talk around it. It’s about putting things to an end.
‘Callum needs to understand how to use his potential,’ added the boss.
‘He needs to understand how to push himself to the absolute limit, and not be happy with 80, 85, 90, 95 per cent. He simply cannot be happy with that in any single day. He needs to learn and understand that and live up to that. Once he does this, he will make his way and leave his footprints.’
Tuchel is very clear on the depth of Hudson-Odoi’s natural ability. He truly believes he can right to the top if he applies himself.
There is some frustration for the boss, however, when it comes to the limited number of substitutions at his disposal in Premier League fixtures. That is currently somewhat hampering, among others, Hudson-Odoi’s involvement.
‘We are very happy with Callum since we arrived here. Everything that counts is what he does here, and how he lives up to his talent that he clearly has.
‘He has big talent, and with that big responsibility. This is what he is trying, sometimes better, sometimes okay, sometimes very good, and when we have a chance we let him play. But please don’t forget we only have three changes here in England, which is a big disadvantage, also for guys like Callum, like Tammy.
‘We cannot give them 20 minutes here, and 20 minutes there, which could make a huge difference for their feeling, but also for their development. We have only three, which means only two because the last one is a bit of a risk for injury and finishing the game with 10 men.’