Gianfranco Zola has backed Maurizio Sarri’s use of Callum Hudson-Odoi, insisting that he is ‘always on the edge’ of the Chelsea first team.
Hudson-Odoi has been one of the more talked about players in the Premier League in recent months, with Bayern Munich making a number of big money moves for the talented teenager.
Chelsea denied the 18-year-old a move to the Bundesliga giants, although he is still waiting for his first Premier League start. He was left out of the matchday squad’s for the heavy defeats to Bournemouth and Man City in recent weeks, leaving his total game time in the league standing at just 74 minutes over four appearances.
He has started both of Chelsea’s FA Cup games so far this season, scoring one and providing two assists, but with Manchester United the visitors to Stamford Bridge for this weekend’s fifth round clash, Blues assistant boss Gianfranco Zola was asked if the club should do more to make the youngster feel valued, something the Italian refuted.
“Sorry but I disagree with this,” Zola said in his pre-match press conference. “He is always on the edge of the team.
“As soon as there is an opportunity he plays, sometimes from the beginning. The manager is giving plenty of reasons for him to feel involved and wanted.
“There are not many 18-year-olds at top clubs in Europe who are playing as much as him. On top of that, he is a player that we appreciate and believe is growing up.
“He has a bright future at this club. All of the coaching group likes him. You need to understand he is surrounded by top players and you have to work hard to be better than them.
“That’s what we want from him, to make sure he keeps improving because he can do better.”