It’s been a dream season for Chelsea and a number of their youngsters. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, and Reece James to name but a few, have made the most of the Blues’ ban which stopped them from signing players over the summer. One youngster who was also expected to do great things in the fold was 19-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. Since his return from injury back in September after rupturing his Achilles in the latter stages of last season, the winger has shown “glimpses” of brilliance that hasn’t really amounted to anything tangible.
Callum Hudson-Odoi’s patchy form continued with a 60-minute feature for England where he had a couple of bright moments but struggled to affect the game consistently.
In the wake of a lacklustre performance, the Chelsea starlet was criticised by Roy Keane for failing to make the most of his opportunity in the England team against Kosovo on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate named the Chelsea youngster in the starting XI for his side’s final Euro 2020 qualifier, with the winger playing alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as part of a front three.
It was a rare opportunity for the 19-year-old, who has started just two Premier League games (Transfermarkt) for the Blues since his return to action due to Christian Pulisic’s impressive performances in recent weeks.
However, he failed to impress during the 4-0 win and was replaced by Marcus Rashford just before the hour mark in Pristina.
“Hudson-Odoi hasn’t taken his chance yet. He isn’t stretching the defence and has given the ball away too cheaply,” Keane said.
“He needs to step his game up in the second half.”
Keane’s comments were echoed by fellow pundit Lee Dixon, who felt that the teenager should have been more confident in possession.
The former Arsenal defender also warned that the Chelsea winger won’t get many more chances to impress Southgate on the international stage before England start their Euro 2020 campaign next summer.
He said: “There are only two games left before the squad is announced.”
“He needs to just run at his full-back. He has to attack more rather than playing the ball inside.”
There have been a lot of very valid reasons given for his lack of sparkle recently, but there are some important things to remember.
Firstly, let’s not forget his actual return was very promising. He scored and assisted through his first series of games on returning from his long injury, and looked back to being his best.
So in a way, the injury is no excuse – we’ve seen him play at a high level already. The problem is more that the injury has affected his confidence in the long term, so this perfectly normal, slightly dry spell is impacting him.
Last season, Callum Hudson-Odoi was all about those special moments, taking risky shots from range and taking players on. It was all working perfectly then, and he just rode the wave.
Now his form isn’t as good, his confidence is failing, and it’s becoming a vicious cycle.
It’s just what happens, though, especially with young players, and it will only take another couple of bright moments to spark him back into life.
Or could it be pressure from living up to highly set expectations and justifying his recent big money contract at Chelsea? Perhaps so.
But it’s now or never for the youngster. Chelsea are not the most famous for developing youngsters and while Lampard’s philosophy could alter that trend, the transfer ban obviously forced him to play way more youngsters than he would have wanted as he was left with no choice as well.
If Chelsea do get their ongoing appeal revoked and the club can do business in January, any potential big-name coming in could ultimately make the 19-year-old a mere squad player.
Of course, Callum Hudson-Odoi is only 19 and time is still on his side, but the emergence of many youngsters at the same time means he must stand out in the midst of many to remain relevant. He’ll need more than occasional brilliance to be an integral figure for Chelsea or for England.