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Tuchel happy with Hudson-Odoi response, sees ‘huge progress’ ahead still

Looking good ‘at the moment’

Newcastle United v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Since half-time of the home game against Malmö two weeks ago, Callum Hudson-Odoi has played 293 of the 315 minutes available to him, just about doubling his involvement in the team from the first two months of the season.

That’s certainly an excellent and promising trend, though it’s tempered by the notion that the youngster has been getting those opportunities largely due to injuries to others ahead of him in the pecking order, including Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic (and Romelu Lukaku, to a lesser extent). Given the reduced number of options in attack, it’s not like Thomas Tuchel had too much of a choice, realistically.

But sometimes that’s what it takes in the world of professional sports. Opportunities can come various ways, but regardless of how or why they arrive, they must be utilized to their fullest extent — especially when there’s some amount of (mis)fortune involved.

So how has Callum been doing? On the scoreboard, the count is one goal and one assist. Not bad. His play overall has been good as well, at least good enough to satisfy the head coach.

“He had a very good pre-season when we saw what he could do on the half-left side. He struggled a bit, in the beginning, to prove that during matches but now we’ve had some injuries, it was needed that he shows up and delivers. This is what he did.

“Like we always say, to get a place in this team, it’s all about performance and this is what Callum shows at the moment.”

Chelsea v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images

But we always want more, as we should — and as he should as well. That’s been the constant theme with Hudson-Odoi not just this season but ever since he burst onto the scene. He’s still very young of course — a week shy of his 21st birthday in fact — but that’s an increasingly less important factor and consideration, for better or worse.

“We didn’t let him leave [in the summer because] we built the squad and Callum was a piece of the puzzle. He thought it might be tough to get minutes and that it might be easier at another club. But you can never be sure that it’s like this.

“I told him straight when he asked that it was not possible. We rely on him and we rely on him to accept his role. There is still huge progress he can make within this group and club.

“Was it always fair to play him as a right wing-back? No, maybe not. But he had to take this for the team and he did – and was always positive and showed the right spirit. [Now] it’s important he shows consistency, stays hungry, and keeps on going and progressing.

“At the same time, he has to be aware of what he has do to stay in the team. And it looks good in this moment.”

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

Tuchel has certainly shown that he’s willing to go with the hot hand and the in-form player. If Callum keeps performing, he will surely continue to earn his opportunities — both now and in the future.

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