Maurizio Sarri fires back at fans over demands to play Callum Hudson-Odoi more
"We can only play two wingers," says man who keeps playing Eden Hazard up front
After making his first England appearances before being named in a starting line-up in the Premier League for Chelsea, Callum Hudson-Odoi might finally be on the verge of some proper game time at Stamford Bridge.
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has been very careful not to put too much pressure on Hudson-Odoi and faced down fans who want to see more of the 18-year-old, starting with Chelsea's trip to Cardiff on Sunday.
"I'm not the coach of the fans," the Italian coach told reporters on Friday.
"We have to play eight matches in 28 days, and so I am sure that Callum will start in two or three matches. It's not a problem for me to put him in the starting XI in a Premier League match.
"He's ready. But of course I can play with only two wingers. In the squad we have [Eden] Hazard, Willian, Pedro, so it's not really very easy to start in every match here. Probably, in the near future, he will start in 75-80 per cent of matches.
"I know very well the situation because, in the last season, Callum was only 17 and he played three or four matches, I think. I think the evolution is the right evolution. Probably, he will play 30-35 matches in the next season. And so I think that, with Callum, we are on the right path."
Sarri noted that he only saw part of Hudson-Odoi's full debut for the Three Lions against Montenegro, and insisted Gareth Southgate didn't quite get it right in putting the winger on the right flank.
"Only 20 minutes," he admitted to watching of Monday's game. "Because I had 14 players in the national teams, and I had no time to watch 20 matches.
"So I saw the English national team only for 20-25 minutes, and Callum didn't start very well in the first 20 minutes on the right.
"He did very well on the left, immediately. The first time he went to the left. But I know him very well, and I know he prefers to play on the left."