Belfast Telegraph

Hudson-Odoi set for first Chelsea start: Sarri

Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi
Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi

By Ed Elliott

Maurizio Sarri is set to hand England winger Callum Hudson-Odoi his first Premier League start in one of Chelsea's next two matches.

Sarri has received heavy criticism for his reluctance to play the talented 18-year-old, with unhappy Blues fans chanting the player's name during Sunday's unconvincing 2-1 win at Cardiff.

Hudson-Odoi, who remained on the bench in south Wales, made his senior international debut last month and underlined his potential with an exciting cameo against the Czech Republic, followed by an impressive 90 minutes in Montenegro.

After being restricted to just 119 top-flight minutes in six substitute appearances under Sarri this season, the teenager finally appears on the verge of his full debut ahead of successive home games against Brighton and West Ham.

"First of all, in pre-season, after four or five training sessions, I realised that Callum was really a player with very great potential," said head coach Sarri, whose team play Chris Hughton's Seagulls tonight.

"In my opinion, he is our future and now he is ready to play. Probably he will start (tonight) or in the next match."

Sarri's job security has come under threat in 2019. After leaving Hudson-Odoi, Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante on the bench and going a goal down in Cardiff, the Italian faced chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' and 'we want Sarri out' from the travelling fans.

The Blues recovered to claim all three points thanks to a contentious offside goal from Cesar Azpilicueta and a stoppage-time winner from Ruben Loftus- Cheek. Sarri confirmed both Kante and Hazard are likely to start tonight.

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