Maurizio Sarri again defended his decision to delay Callum Hudson-Odoi’s first Premier League start, as N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard prepare to return for Chelsea.
Hudson-Odoi, Kante and Hazard were all named as substitutes for the 2-1 win over Cardiff City on Sunday, with the latter two rested while the teenage winger waits on his full league bow – despite having starred for England against Montenegro on March 25.
Sarri promised ahead of the Cardiff game that Hudson-Odoi would soon start but only reiterated that stance before facing Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.
The coach said Hudson-Odoi would “probably” start against Brighton or subsequent opponents West Ham, but his involvement will depend on the availability of Chelsea’s other wide men.
“First of all, at the beginning of the season in pre-season, after four or five training sessions, I realised that Callum was really a player with a great potential,” Sarri told a news conference.
“In that moment he wasn’t ready to play at this level. But during the season, he has improved and is now ready to play. I decided at the start of the season that he has to stay with us and I put him in the squad.
“I know Callum very well and I want him to improve more because the potential is there. Callum is always in my mind. In my opinion, he is our future and now he is ready to play.
Sarri talks about deciding at the start of the season that Callum Hudson-Odoi should be in the squad, but he needed then to improve. The boss says that has happened and now he is ready to play. Sarri says that probably Hudson-Odoi will start tomorrow’s game. #CHEBHA
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 2, 2019
“He will probably start [on Wednesday] or in the next match.
“Of course [he could start against Brighton], but first I want to see the condition of all the players, the condition of Willian, Pedro, Eden, all the wingers. He is in my mind.”
Asked whether Kante and Hazard would start, Sarri replied: “I don’t know, but I think so. They rested in the last match.
“We need to consider that N’Golo this season has played 50 matches and Hazard 48. In the last two weeks, they played with the national teams for two matches.
“Sometimes they need to rest. Now they are OK.”
Marcos Alonso will miss the match with a hamstring injury, as Sarri revealed the left-back “has to rest for three or four days.”
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