Maurizio Sarri believes that Callum Hudson-Odoi has the ability to make his first Premier League start soon, but insisted that making an impact against sub-standard international opponents is not an indicator of future success in the Premier League.
Hudson-Odoi debuted for England off the bench against Czech Republic over the international break, before making his first start against Montenegro, as Gareth Southgate's team started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with two wins.
The 18-year-old put in strong showings in both games, forcing an own goal against the Czechs before looking dangerous in a 5-1 win over Montenegro.
Sarri has come under fire for his limited use of the teenage winger this season, but the former Napoli boss isn't getting carried away by Hudson-Odoi's successful beginning to life as a senior international.
“Callum is ready to play against every opponent,” Sarri told reporters at Cobham Training Ground. “I think the qualification for the European Championships, the level is really very low. It's not the Premier League level, of course.”
"I think he needs to improve more. And I want him to improve more. And he has to stay with his feet on the floor. I have not got to play against Montenegro. There are a lot of national teams at a very low level.
"He has to work every day, and improve the left, improve in the defensive phase, improve in the movement without the ball. I want him to improve because the potential is really, really very, very high. And so it's right that he continues to improve.
"Otherwise we risk stopping him. He is, at this moment, a very, very good player. But he can become more. I want him to become more.”
Sarri also said that Olivier Giroud, N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard may have returned from the international break with some tiredness.
Jorginho also picked up a slight injury after coming off in the 57th minute of Italy's 6-0 win against Liechtenstein. Sarri is hopeful that the midfielder can return for Sunday's away clash against Cardiff City.
“No, as I said before, we have some players a little bit tired," Sarri said. "A little problem with Jorginho. But we are trying to recover him. I think it's possible for him to play. I am not sure at the moment, but I think it's possible.”
Sarri now faces eight more games in the league with his long-term future at Stamford Bridge on the line, after coming under scrutiny over some poor results in recent weeks.
Chelsea are currently in sixth place after an away defeat to Everton before the international break. Chelsea have only won one away league game in 2019 and Sarri thinks that his team's mentality has faltered in their efforts for a top-four finish.
“It's really very strange. In the first half of the season, we played better away than at home. Now, in the last five matches, we were in trouble away, and I don't know why. It's very difficult to explain the last four or five matches away.
"I am really very confident, but, especially away, the reaction on the pitch to the difficulties in the last few months were really wrong. In the last match, we played very well for 45 minutes. And then the first difficult [moment] – two corners – we conceded a goal, and after the goal, we were not able to react in the right way. It's very strange after the first 45 minutes.
"The problem is the reaction. The problem in the last match was clear. We were not able to face the first difficulty of the match. We were not able to react. So it was clear that the problem was the mentality.
"So we need to work and try and improve our mentality as soon as possible because we are able to react. In the first part of the season, if you remember, we were able to react immediately when we conceded a goal. So it's very strange. Now the situation is different."