Hudson-Odoi for England? Tuchel's tough love pushing Chelsea youngster into Euro 2020 frame

Callum Hudson-Odoi Tuchel Southgate GFX
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The 20-year-old has recovered from his early substitution against Southampton and is thriving in a system similar to that played by Gareth Southgate

When Callum Hudson-Odoi was substituted after being on the field for just 31 minutes against Southampton nine days ago, he could have been forgiven for believing his Chelsea career was about to hit another roadblock.

The 20-year-old had been introduced at half-time by Thomas Tuchel, only for the German coach to replace him as the game entered its closing stages, citing Hudson-Odoi's frame of mind as the reason.

"I was not happy with his attitude, energy and counter-pressing," Tuchel said post-match at the St Mary's Stadium. “I took him off and we demand 100 per cent, I feel he is not in the right shape to help us."

Given how Hudson-Odoi felt he was being held back at times by both Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard, those were not the words that he would have wanted to hear as he aims to finally establish himself in the Chelsea first team.

But after bouncing back with eye-catching performances against both Atletico Madrid and Manchester United over the past week, the youngster is clearly keen to repay the faith his new coach is showing in him after regularly being left out of the biggest games by his two previous managers.

Following his performance in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Atleti, Spanish newspapers such as Mundo Deportivo and Marca were effusive in their praise of Hudson-Odoi.

And he was similarly impressive in Sunday's draw with United, despite the post-match headlines focusing on his apparent handball that controversially did not lead to a penalty for the visitors.

Though he only played the first half at Stamford Bridge, he was Chelsea's main attacking outlet in the opening 45 minutes, and was the only player to create more than one goalscoring opportunity for either side while he was on the pitch.

He was pictured with ice strapped around his thigh following his withdrawal, though Tuchel confirmed the problem is only minor, and that he instead wanted to alter things tactically in a bid to keep United's attack at bay.

Callum Hudson-Odoi Thomas Tuchel Chelsea GFX

"The reason was tactical and a little injury combination, because we switched to a back five in defence and covered the position of [Marcus] Rashford in between Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta) and Reece James in the second half," Tuchel said.

"It was not an option to use Callum there, that’s why it was a tactical choice."

Tuchel's reluctance to rely on Hudson-Odoi when aiming to play more defensively speaks to the developments the wideman must make to his game as he continues to learn his new wing-back role.

Having previously played all his senior football as a wide forward, Hudson-Odoi's change of position seems to be getting the best out of him, and in turn could see him challenge for a place in the England squad for this summer's European Championship.

He has won three caps - the first of which saw him become the youngest player to ever make his England debut in a competitive international as an 18-year-old back in 2019. But Hudson-Odoi has been either injured or sent to represent the Under-21s over the past two years, with Gareth Southgate reluctant to select players who are not regular starters for their clubs.

That excuse will no longer wash when it comes to the U17 World Cup winner, however, and he is certainly producing the kind of performances that would not look out of place for a team hoping to reach the latter stages at this year's tournament.

Southgate has switched from a four-man defence to playing a 3-4-3 system over the course of the past six months, with his new formation largely mirroring the one that Tuchel has installed during his opening weeks in west London.

Callum Hudson-Odoi Gareth Southgate England GFX

Hudson-Odoi impressing in such a system will surely have caught Southgate's eye, and though he is not short of options when it comes to right-sided defenders, the former Bayern Munich target's attacking instincts certainly mark him out as a unique alternative.

His Chelsea team-mate, James, is just one those currently above him in the pecking order, but if Hudson-Odoi continues to keep him out of the Chelsea side then surely Southgate may have to re-think his own depth chart.

Elsewhere, Trent Alexander-Arnold has endured a significant slump at Liverpool while Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier threatens to be short of match practice having been hit with a 10-week ban for breaking betting rules.

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Manchester City's Kyle Walker, Manchester United's Aaron Wan-Bissaka and ex-Chelsea youngster Tariq Lamptey of Brighton are also in the running, but none have made a convincing case for inclusion so far this season.

As such, there is a chance for Hudson-Odoi if he can continue to be a shining light for Tuchel.

The ex-Borussia Dortmund boss' brand of tough love certainly seems to be resonating with Hudson-Odoi. If it helps earn him an England recall, that swift withdrawal at Southampton will quickly be forgotten.

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