Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi turned down the chance to go away with England’s U21s next month in order to stay with Chelsea.
However, the Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has challenged Callum Hudson-Odoi to get his foot in the door of first-team selection at Chelsea – but has warned the winger that it will not be easy.
Yet after being passed over for a recall to the England squad, he yesterday turned down a place in the under-21 squad and almost guaranteed playing time in matches next month against Romania and Kosovo.
“I’m speculating but I think it’s disappointment that he’s not with the England first team but he maybe did not have enough minutes,” Tuchel said. “I could see the [benefit] in having minutes in a leading role for the under-21s but he decided differently and will have to deal with the consequences.”
Atalanta of Italy’s Serie A are reported to be interested in taking the 20-year-old on loan, but Tuchel is reluctant to see his squad numbers drop, and he recognises Hudson-Odoi’s desire to fight for his Chelsea place.
“It’s hard to argue that he needs game time to improve his personal level,” Tuchel said. “At the same time there is always room for improvement here at the club.”
The only way to break the vicious circle, Tuchel says, is to be ready to take the next opportunity, whenever it comes.
“From the first day in pre-season I saw him on a very different level but struggling to produce the same performances on the pitch that he did in training. He started every friendly match and the Super Cup and sometimes these are little moments where you can turn your career completely upside-down – if he had been able to perform.
“To be absolutely fair, we have used him as a wing-back on the right [in the Super Cup], which is not his very best position but we did it because he had the training in his legs to play 90 or 120 minutes. He waits for a regular chance in the half-left position, but he fights against Mason [Mount], Kai [Havertz] Hakim [Ziyech], Christian Pulisic, a lot of guys with a lot of quality, a lot of game time and a lot of consistency.
So it’s very hard for him, I agree, but we don’t have to feel sorry for him. Once the door is a little bit open, we demand that he puts his foot in [it] and he makes his mark. This can happen any time. It happened last season when we put him on for 20 minutes against Man City and he was a real game-changer. Next time we do this, he needs to be ready.”