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Echoes of Rooney in 'fearless' Hudson-Odoi and interest will build, says ex-England striker

17:02 GMT 30/03/2019
Callum Hudson-Odoi England 2019
The teenage Chelsea forward has burst onto the scene with club and country and is being backed to make an even greater impact at Stamford Bridge

Callum Hudson-Odoi’s breakthrough with England “echoed Wayne Rooney’s first start”, says Peter Crouch, with the “fearless” Chelsea teenager expected to generate plenty of interest this summer.

At just 18 years of age, the Stamford Bridge academy graduate has enjoyed a breakthrough season for club and country.

Maurizio Sarri has handed the youngster 19 appearances this season, while a senior international start has been made before making the XI in a Premier League game at club level.

Big things are expected of Hudson-Odoi from this point, with Crouch seeing an exciting crop of talented youngsters following in some illustrious footsteps.

The former Three Lions striker told the Daily Mail: “Fearless. It’s the only word to describe the young players who are lighting up our game.

“It’s fine to talk about skill and ability but it’s their lack of nerves that stands out.

“I watched Trent Alexander-Arnold, for example, play in the Champions League final last May at just 19 and it seemed like he’d been on that stage all his life. Marcus Rashford is leading the line for Manchester United and you have to remind yourself he is 21.

“Jadon Sancho, just turned 19, has slotted into the England squad without fuss and now Callum Hudson-Odoi has done the same, with an attitude that echoed Wayne Rooney’s first start for England against Turkey in April 2003.

“Hudson-Odoi is going places. You may say that is obvious but, believe me, I have seen enough kids who break through and play a few good games and fade away in the years that follow. When you work and play alongside them, you can see the ones who are different.

“He is different. Last November, I went to Stamford Bridge to watch a Europa League game against PAOK Salonika. Chelsea won 4-0 and Hudson-Odoi scored one of the goals. The energy in his game meant you couldn’t take your eyes off him.

“Maurizio Sarri played him from the start in that match yet, so far, he has been reluctant to let Hudson-Odoi loose in the Premier League.

“It’s difficult to work out why he has only played 84 minutes from the bench. Willian and Pedro have been brilliant for Chelsea and I’m not being disrespectful to them but Hudson-Odoi will be looking at them and becoming increasingly impatient. It’s something every teenager feels: you’ve had your go, it’s my turn.

“Sarri has defended how he has used Hudson-Odoi this season and it is true that he has given him chances but it’s getting to the point where it is almost impossible to keep him out of his league plans. If he doesn’t play now, the fans will demand to know why.”

Crouch believes Chelsea should be leaning more on home-grown stars, but believes unleashing Hudson-Odoi is only likely to lead to more rivals joining Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the hunt for a player of considerable potential.

The Burnley frontman added: “I look at Chelsea and see a squad that could thrive with a young English heart. I’m a huge fan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley looks to have rediscovered his confidence and, in years to come, they could have Mason Mount, who is on loan at Derby, making an impact too.

“To see Hudson-Odoi running at Montenegro with boundless confidence was fabulous. I thought back to what it was like when I was 18. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for the Premier League but you can see he most certainly is.

“Chelsea fought to keep Hudson-Odoi out of Bayern Munich’s clutches in January but I expect the Germans to return this summer, along with some Premier League clubs. Should he play regularly in the coming weeks, holding on to him will be easier.”