After missing essentially the entire second half of last season, Callum Hudson-Odoi feels like a bit of a new signing ahead of the new season. He also feels like a bit of a new man, having put on a bit of bulk and feeling fit as a fiddle.
Preseason may be only a week old, but the 21-year-old has been back in training for over a month, adding a bit of muscle — got some shoulders now! — and rebuilding some confidence.
“The whole summer I’ve just been trying to build on my strength and my fitness, just focusing on me getting back to being myself really. I’ve been [at Cobham] for the past five out of six weeks with just a one-week break and it’s good to know I’ve started early to be as fit as possible before the boys came back.
“I’m definitely feeling much stronger. [...] My main goal this summer and throughout the season is to be stronger. There were times in the season last year when I was running with the ball and feeling like I could get barged off it or I’m not as strong as I thought I was. I’ve been putting more muscle on in training to make sure I’m getting bigger so when the opponents come, I know that I’m strong enough to hold them off, or that I won’t get barged and I can barge them instead.”
Hudson-Odoi was limited to just 28 appearances last season, and missed the last four months with some sort of an injury that was never really described in any detail at the time.
As the weeks dragged on, it was eventually categorized as an Achilles problem — an especially scary label given his injury history — but as he describes it, the issue was much more complex than that.
“It was a weird one. It was a neurological thing where I had a tweaked nerve in my back and it stemmed all the way down through my body, so it then became difficult for me to retain muscle. There was no power really in my legs and everything was like ‘woah’. I was trying to pass the ball 10 yards but I had no power and I couldn’t even do it.
“I think it was also a post-coronavirus thing from December, which I couldn’t believe because it had been such a long time before. The issue started with my Achilles and then I was trying to use other parts of my body to make up for it, so for example when I was running I wasn’t running on my toes as much because my Achilles power wasn’t that strong.
“I was trying to find another way to run and then it started affecting my back but all of it is good now. My Achilles is strong again and my back is strong so everything is perfect. It’s one of those things but I’m glad to be back and to have all my power, strength and speed back is all that I can wish for.”
Fortunately, it sounds like both the muscular and the neurological aspects of the injury have been rehabbed properly and Callum can get back on track to fulfilling his great promise.
“Injuries happen but my main aim for the rest of my career as long as it goes is to stay injury-free as much as possible. I’m trying to do the right things to make sure that I’m 100 per cent and that I can give it my best every game.”
“I want to be playing as much as possible. Regular football brings out the consistency so I want to just keep playing and playing as much as I can. Playing those 10 out of 11 games in my preferred position on the left side was massive for me because that’s where I know I can be at my best and do what I do as much as possible. We were winning games, top of the league and everything was going well, so to have an injury like that hits you hard but at the same time it motivates you to come back and return to where you were before.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Chelsea FC
Hudson-Odoi is still very young, yet at the same time he’s also quite experienced already, with four full seasons in the first-team and well over 100 senior appearances to this name already. Expectations remain sky high, as they should be.