England boss Southgate backs Sarri in Hudson-Odoi playtime debate
Getty Images - Marc Atkins

Maurizio Sarri has already introduced Callum Hudson-Odoi onto the Chelsea first-team scene to good effect. However, it has become a quick criticism that the Italian manager does not show as much faith in the England youngster as he, perhaps, should.

That being said, England manager Gareth Southgate has backed Sarri in his decision to reserve the credentials of Hudson-Odoi in what is still a very premature, early career for the winger.

Learn from the master

Any criticism or indeed approval from Southgate about bringing through and coaching young talent holds the highest degree of gravitas. A peripheral of young talent has been brought through to the first team since his appointment and to good effect too.

Jadon Sancho – just one shining example of the many – impressed in England’s recent Euro 2020 Qualifying match against Czech Republic.  

On Sarri’s measured employment of Hudson-Odoi, Southgate said: “If you look at the number of appearances, he has actually been on the field quite a lot. And I know from when we were talking with the club earlier in the season how much faith Maurizio [Sarri] has in him.

"He’s got some outstanding players just in front of him. He’s slowly getting more and more game time, and they’ve still got the Europa League as well.”

Embed from Getty Images

Is he just right about everything? 

He has a point too. Hudson-Odoi has made played 19 matches for Chelsea this season- managing 593 minutes of Premier League football. His most successful campaign so far, by some way, is Chelsea’s current storm in the Europa League; in the competition, he has earned eight appearances and scored four goals.

Like Sarri, Southgate acknowledges that the biggest part of Hudson-Odoi’s future and development lies within keeping him from overruling media attention and pressure from the public to perform. Part of this, in turn, is maintained by a slow and seamless introduction into regular first team football.

“I think that comes into everything,” explained Southgate. “How much we expose them to the public, how much we put them into commercial situations.

"We’ve got to be thinking about all of that all of the time because it’s very easy for them to enjoy these moments, and they’ve got to enjoy these moments, but equally, there’s a good balance."

Embed from Getty Images

The Sir Alex way. 

Southgate, with plenty of Premier League playing experience himself, used Sir Alex Fergusson’s template of youth development as the highest example of what Sarri is trying to replicate and achieve.

”I always think of Sir Alex with Ryan [Giggs] and how he did that so well. They had sustained success because of that. So, although they’re not our players on a day-to-day basis,

"I think we’ve got a responsibility to do that as much as we can, because also we’re putting them onto another level and we’ve got to make sure we get the balance right for the club, but most importantly for the player.”

Ready for more. 

The England manager feels as though Hudson-Odoi is now more than capable of maintaining his first-team spot in the international squad.

In their 5-0 demolition of Czech Republic, Hudson-Odoi appeared as a second-half substitute and was directly involved in England’s fifth goal.

Speaking about his place in the squad, Southgate said: “We’ve got competition for places and I think with attacking players any way they mature very young, and they can go in very young.

"So, it’s not an issue to play them, and really, we’ve found another player that we really liked [in Hudson-Odoi], but we weren’t certain that he’d be able to adapt to this level, and we’re a bit fortunate in finding him, in that we probably wouldn’t have done that in this camp.

"We’d have given him a bit longer in the U21s. But already he’s proved in this environment that he can more than cope.”