Maurizio Sarri has confirmed England youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi will start one of Chelsea’s next two Premier League games.
The Blues currently sit sixth in the table, just one point behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and face Brighton at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before hosting West Ham United on Monday.
Hudson-Odoi finally set to get his chance: Five key things to know…
- Hudson-Odoi has made 17 appearances for Chelsea this season, scoring five goals.
- However, his six starts so far have come in the Europa League and FA Cup.
- Despite this, the 18-year-old still picked up his first senior England caps last month.
- Sarri has come under heavy fire for not giving Hudson-Odoi Premier League starts to this point.
- The Italian has now revealed he plans to start Hudson-Odoi in one of Chelsea’s next two league games.
Despite picking up his first senior England caps and scoring four goals in eight Europa League games this season, Hudson-Odoi is yet to start a Premier League game for Chelsea, making just six substitute appearances so far.
However, Sarri, who has come under increased pressure from the club’s supporters due to poor results and unpopular team selection, has now revealed plans to hand the 18-year-old his first top-flight start soon.
“In pre-season after four or five training sessions, I realised that Callum was a player with very great potential,” Sarri said.
“In my opinion, in that moment he wasn’t ready to play at this level, but during the season he has improved and he is ready.
“I decided at the beginning of the season that he has to stay with us and I put him in the squad. I know Callum very well. I want him to improve more because the potential is high. Callum is always in my mind, in my opinion, he is our future. He is ready to play.
“Probably he will start tomorrow, or the next match.
“Firstly I want to see the condition of all our players, of Willi [Willian], Pedro, Eden [Hazard], all the wingers, but of course he is in my mind.”
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Sarri: I understand fan frustration
Not for the first time this season, Sarri found himself on the end of a barrage of abuse from Chelsea fans during their controversial 2-1 win over Cardiff on Sunday, with a number of songs from the away section aimed at the Italian.
However, the 60-year-old is remaining positive, claiming he understands fan frustration and insisting Chelsea’s form hasn’t been as bad as many are saying.
He said: “I am not happy, of course. I am not concerned. It can happen. I can understand well the frustration of our fans.
“We are not doing so badly, this season we have won 33 matches, I think in England, only Man City did better.
“Probably we started very well and so our fans thought that everything was really very easy for us but it isn’t true. We have to work to improve, I think that if you take a coach with my characteristics, you have to work.”
Sarri did, however, advise the disgruntled Chelsea fans to stick with the players during matches and leave their barrage of criticism for after the full-time whistle.
“They have to help the players during the match,” he added. “After the match, they can say anything.”