Lampard: Hudson-Odoi is playing better than ever

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Frank Lampard admits that Callum Hudson-Odoi is playing better than ever as calls grow ever louder for him to become a regular starter at Chelsea.

The 20-year-old winger has only started two of Chelsea's league games this season but he has produced a goal involvement every 64 minutes since Boxing Day.

The homegrown star's goals and assists come amid a run of poor form at Chelsea that has seen them stumble from first place to seventh in the league.

Fresh off a 1-0 win over Fulham, next up is a trip to the King Power Stadium to face third-place Leicester City and Lampard addressed the calls to pick Hudson-Odoi with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic all out of form.

“He’s definitely playing well and improving and I think it’s a little bit of a lazy stat, the one about where we are scoring when he’s on the pitch, but he’s directly involved in goals, assists and scoring,” Lampard told reporters.

“I think those are good stats. But he is, for me, making assists and scoring goals, he is playing at a really high level where we saw him last year, recovering from an injury. I think his confidence visually to beat his man, go one-versus-one, which he has to be about, wasn’t quite there.

“We have to understand that because he’s young and he’s come off the back of a really bad injury. Now we're seeing that come back and we’re seeing him run behind the line, hence when he scores against Morecambe - I know it’s Morecambe, but he breaks the line and scores a goal.

“He’s doing that much more regularly now, which is what I ask from him. So his progression is there and he’s getting his chances and he will get more chances.

“At the end of the day, and I’ve said this after the game the other night, Christian Pulisic came to the club and had, in the end, a really good record of goals and assists - the best in his career - by the end of the season.

“Hakim Ziyech has come in and had a really good patch for us. Callum’s raised his game, so Callum will get his opportunities. There’s no doubt about that because he’s playing well, he’s playing better than I’ve seen him play for us and really contributing.

“That’s from his own hard work and natural talent. It’s good to see.”

Like the rest of the Premier League, the Blues are adapting to increased measures to combat the spread of coronavirus across the division, with a new and more contagious variant of the disease having emerged across society.

The lack of goal celebrations and interactions with the opposition came under the spotlight, with the UK Government putting pressure on English football to change.

One such measure that has been communicated to players is not to swap shirts, but Chelsea defender Thiago Silva was pictured throwing his jersey to a Brazilian worker at Fulham's Craven Cottage Stadium on Saturday.

Lampard will remind the 36-year-old defender of the regulations on behaviour despite his heart being in the right place to ensure a fan earned a valuable souvenir.

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“I'll speak to Thiago. This happened when Everton played at Fulham and Richarlison gave his shirt to the same member of staff who asked for it,” Lampard continued. “Thiago got asked for it after the game.

“The players are very aware of the new restrictions about players not swapping shirts, not about staff, that’s players not swapping shirts, which I think everyone adhered to.

“Now I'll speak to Thiago very clearly just about swapping shirts with anyone, at the moment it's not what we want to do because obviously we're in this Covid environment. But these rules are changing a lot and it was very much an innocent thing. I'll have a word with Thiago.”