With today’s FA Cup game potentially providing a start for Callum Hudson-Odoi, is there real pressure on the 19-year-old to produce a starring performance so early in his career?
The winger is one of the most well-known teenage prospects in the game due to some of his initial showings in the Chelsea team, which followed a stellar youth career and then plenty of noise generated by interest from Bayern Munich prior to his signing of a new, long-term Chelsea contract at the start of this season.One person who knows the player as well any coach is Jody Morris, who was youth team manager during Hudson-Odoi’s time at that level, and he insists the fact the youngster suffered a serious injury last season, which carried into the start of this one, should not be overlooked.‘Not only is he young, he hadn’t really gone through any tough spells in his life,’ points out Morris.‘I can’t remember when he’s had a serious injury like he had. At the Academy everything was plain-sailing. He was one of the best players in the building for a long time.‘He did okay last year when he came in, albeit they weren’t the bigger games.‘Remembering his age, the fact he hasn’t played regular first team football, and the seriousness of his injury, you do need to take into account that you need to give the kid a bit of time.’
Hudson-Odoi ruptured his Achilles tendon in April, a big blow given he was establishing himself in the team at Chelsea and his England career had just taken off with his first two caps the previous month. He returned in September, fortunately sooner than Ruben Loftus-Cheek has managed from a similar but more serious Achilles injury.Now the challenge for Hudson-Odoi is to win a regular starting place in Frank Lampard’s side. He has started six games and come on in 13 this season.‘Can he do better?’ ponders Lampard’s assistant Morris. ‘Yeah. He knows he can do better. He has been told he can do better, but at the same time he has been doing some really good stuff off the ball. There is a balancing act.‘Me and Joe [Edwards] both worked with him [in the Academy]. Being away for a year, a lot can happen, especially at a young age, and with his contract. Now that’s done and dusted, it’s about knuckling down and getting down to work. The signs he is giving off at the moment are that he wants to do that. He wants to work hard; he wants to improve.‘We do need to keep reminding ourselves that rupturing your Achilles as an 18-year-old when you haven’t played regular first team football, and you’re learning the way we want to play, it will take time.‘He certainly hasn’t shown any signs of feeling the pressure of his new contract or expectation. He’s a confident boy. A couple of days ago he was asking me about clips he wanted to go through. I like that from him. When someone is trying to actively improve, you’ve got a chance.’
Read: Morris provides injury update for FA Cup tie