On Monday night, England travelled to Podgorica to play their second of two EURO2020 qualifiers against Montenegro. Following the three lions’ comfortable 5-0 victory against the Czech Republic in their opening game, many people wouldn’t see reason to change their line-up, especially being away in a competitive game.
However, as seen time and time again throughout his managerial career, Gareth Southgate altered the team selection to grant even opportunity to each player in the squad. The rotation saw four players interchange, Jadon Sancho being the man to give way to Callum Hudson-Odoi, his first start for the national team.
The Infamous Chelsea loan list.
Notorious for their large number of players loaned out each year, Chelsea operated no different this season despite being under new management in Mauricio Sarri. Throughout the season, a total of 41 players (Mirror) moved on loan from Chelsea to other clubs, a large portion of the bunch being under 21.
This staggering fact didn’t dishearten 18-year-old Hudson-Odoi who opted to remain at the Blues in regard to a potential loan move. In recent years, Chelsea managers haven’t been acknowledged for prioritising youth development.
Ruben Loftus Cheek is a prime example of Chelsea hindering the progress of young talent. After making his professional debut for Chelsea under José Mourinho in 2014, replacing Cesc Fabregas for the final 7 minutes against Sporting CP in the Champions League, Loftus Cheek only featured another 21 times before deciding to take a season loan in the 2017/18 season.
Hudson-Odoi’s big break.
Following an impressive pre-season, Sarri announced that the youngster would be a part of his plans for the Italian’s debut season. In response, Hudson-Odoi was granted a place in the first team squad alongside the number 20 jersey, formerly of two-time Premier League winner, Victor Moses. No pressure, right?
Sarri kept the faith in Hudson-Odoi with a start in the Community Shield against Manchester City, where he wasn’t fazed by the occasion. The wiz kid from Wandsworth made the hallowed turf of Wembley stadium look like a kick about in the park, causing constant trouble for Kyle Walker.
Being the only bright spark for Chelsea in a 0-2 defeat to the Premier League Champions, Hudson-Odoi started again for the Blues in their penultimate UEFA Europa League game against PAOK at Stamford Bridge. In a comfortable 4-0 victory, Hudson-Odoi restored the managers trust by netting his first goal for the senior team.
On the Move?
Despite being in scintillating form, Hudson-Odoi wasn’t starting regularly for Chelsea even with the team having a subpar season at Christmas. The youngster begun to attract interest from some of the European elite clubs, Bayern Munich leading the race for his signature in January.
It became public knowledge that the German titans had made numerous bids for Hudson-Odoi and with Chelsea reluctant to let go, he submitted a transfer request January 26. To everyone’s surprise, the following day Hudson-Odoi was selected to start Chelsea’s FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday. The youngster once again proved his worth, adding another goal to his tally in a 3-0 win.
As speculation increased, Sarri confirmed that Hudson-Odoi would remain in London for at least the remainder of the season.
Hudson Odoi made the decision to represent England despite being also eligible to play for Ghana. He first made his mark on the national team in the 2017 European Under 17 Championships, scoring against Turkey in the semi-final and again against Spain in the final. Despite missing out on the trophy on penalties, Hudson-Odoi gave the three lions optimism going forward.
In the latest International squad selection, he was selected for the U21s although after injury to a few senior players, he was granted a first team call up.
Gareth Southgate recognised that he had talent to his disposal after substituting Hudson-Odoi on in the 70th minute against Czech Republic, his International first team debut. Hudson-Odoi also became the youngest England debutant in a competitive match, breaking Duncan Edwards record set in 1955.
After impressing in the limited amount of time, the youngster was awarded a start vs Montenegro the following game. Linking up with his club teammate Ross Barkley, he assisted one of the five goals, restoring the faith in his manager once more.
If Hudson-Odoi’s future doesn’t lie in West London, where else would you like to see him?