Thomas Tuchel admits he has not always been fair on Callum Hudson-Odoi by playing him as a wing-back for Chelsea – but has praised the 20-year-old for his recent performances.
Hudson-Odoi came close to leaving Chelsea in the summer in a bid to secure more regular playing time.
But having seen a potential transfer blocked, the winger has got more opportunities and has started the last three matches in a row.
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Tuchel believes Hudson-Odoi can make “huge progress” if he continues to develop at Chelsea.
“We’re glad that he stayed. We didn’t let him leave,” said Tuchel ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Malmo on Tuesday.
“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.”
Tuchel also praised Hudson-Odoi for adapting to different positions, having traditionally been used as a winger or forward.
“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.
“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. 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.”
Chelsea will be without Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount against Malmo, but Christian Pulisic is in the squad.
“For Timo, Romelu and Kova it is no surprise," said Tuchel. "For Mason, he doesn't feel any better but to stop any speculation it is not Covid. He is just ill and does not feel good enough to take part in training or take part in the trip to Malmo.
“The good news is Christian Pulisic is back in the squad for tomorrow."
Chelsea are three points behind Group H leaders Juventus.
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