The Blues boss has been excited to see his young wonderkid play 60 minutes in Friday’s Under-23s match after coming back from serious injury
Frank Lampard says that Callum Hudson-Odoi’s return has been “not far off” as he backed Chelsea’s youth star to shine in the Champions League
Hudson-Odoi returned from an Achilles tendon rupture on Friday night and Lampard has been monitoring his 18-year-old closely ahead of a first-team return.
Lampard’s side beat Wolves 5-2 on Saturday afternoon without their winger but his return has been very close after he played 60 minutes against Brighton’s Under-23s.
Chelsea are also set to announce a lucrative new £180,000-a-week contract for Hudson-Odoi as they fend off interest from Bayern Munich, and Lampard has been thrilled to welcome the exciting young talent back into the fold.
“I did watch him. I spoke with him this morning. He’s not far off,” Lampard said at Molineux stadium.
“We have to be careful because it was a big injury and what we have done has been actually got him back out on time but we have to make sure the strength has been right in the area because that could lead to other injuries if we go too soon.
“The way he played on Friday, I think he’s not far away. He’s been training with us now for two or three weeks. We have got the Carabao Cup coming the midweek next and that will maybe be an opportunity to look at players who have been injured or different options.
“In between, if players, if Callum, shows this week how good he has been in training I’ll have to consider him probably from now on. The comforting thing about today has been you look at the bench and there are options, particularly in attacking areas.
“It was a strong bench and we still major injuries. To think we have Kante, Callum who played last night and Reece James knocking on the door again, Ruben and other players coming back.
“I have opportunities because of the size of the squad but at the same time, I want to keep consistency. After a performance like today, that’s where we need to go. We need to play like that and get results. It’s my job now to balance it out.”
Lampard was happy after his second win as Chelsea manager but he saw Antonio Rudiger come off with a minor strain.
The manager hopes it isn’t serious with N’Golo Kante and Emerson Palmieri out injured ahead of kick-off, while recent debutant Billy Gilmour has a strain that he sustained with Scotland’s Under-21s.
Lampard has other youngsters at his disposal, with Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori all scoring against Wolves, and he has been ready to use them European games.
“I won’t consider age,” he added of the Champions League ahead of Valencia’s trip to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. “I don’t consider it because they’ve shown confidence, personality in the group. That’s easy. I just pick them on merit.
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“Confidence and momentum has been great. It’s not quite momentum yet but it has been a good feeling to see the team play how they did. We need more clean sheets and we continually need to work on that.
“The Champions League has been the top club competition in world football and I’m sure Mason, Tammy, Tomori are all excited for it. All the players should be. I’m looking forward to it, my debut as a manager.”
Lampard went onto confirm that Abraham was substituted in the 77th minute because of cramp and that he should be fit to play against Valencia.