BY PAUL LAGAN
Callum Hudson-Odoi has put himself back in the reckoning to start today’s early afternoon match against Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
The winger came on as a sub at the Emirates and was influential in the Blues 2-1 at the weekend.
He has come under fire from social media critics but head coach Frank Lampard remains confident of the striker’s ability and will give him game time to prove it.
Lampard said of the online criticism: “I’ve not spoken to him about that. Unfortunately with social media that is par for the course.
“It doesn’t make it right or wrong. I haven’t seen it but unfortunately that is something that you have to have a very thick skin about.
“I said it after the Southampton game, he is a young player – just 19 – had a lot of talk about him for different reasons which is not all of his doing, there has been a big microscope on him and I think we actually do have to give him time and patience with how young he is.
“I have got no problems with him, I thought he did well when he came on at Arsenal, that should be a nice little boost for him and I think Chelsea fans will be absolutely behind him, they want to see passion.
“They want to see all those things as well as the ability to go past people which he has got. He needs to understand what is needed and he is working on that constantly, I’ll back him and work with him on that.”
Hudson-Odoi signed a new long-term contract for the SW6 outfit in the summer, fending off an approach from German giants Bayern Munich. Lampard was asked if that has affected his performances?
He said: “I’m not sure but if that is the case, I think it will quite quickly go away. It is up to him to put that to bed.
He has signed a really long contract here, declared he wants to be here. We are happy but now he has to produce.
“At 19 it is a lot to say that one performance, something where he plays the other day where he comes in after being out of the team, ‘you must produced instantly or you’ll get social media giving it to you’. We have to be level-headed and I will certainly try and protect him against that.
“Little snippets like against Arsenal, coming on and looking bright, going past people and hitting cross field passes. He needs to develop more but he absolutely has the talent to do a lot more.”
Does he have an issue over consistency? Lampard said: “Maybe, and maybe we are asking to much of him. At 19 there are not too many that are playing in the Premier League every week, especially at a club like ourselves. He does have competition in those areas. His consistency needs to be how he works, how he trains everyday and how much pressure he puts on me to play him and get into the team.
“That is one thing he will strive for but from all the conversations I have had with him in the last few weeks – and I have had a few – he understands what he needs to do on and off the pitch. I will certainly stick with him.”
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