Callum Hudson-Odoi was on the plane to Seville last night after Frank Lampard said he had a “difficult” conversation with the 20-year-old following his absence from Chelsea’s squad for the draw against Tottenham on Sunday.
Hudson-Odoi will play on Wednesday. Qualification is already secured and although Lampard said the game, which will go a long way to deciding first place in Champions League Group E, “certainly isn’t a dead rubber”, he is planning to make changes.
Hudson-Odoi has played 11 games this season, including all four Champions League matches so far, and Lampard has implored the winger to work harder for more opportunities.
Chelsea turned down a bid from Bayern Munich in October to take Hudson-Odoi on loan with an option to buy for £70m. Lampard said he had spoken to the 20-year-old after leaving him out against Spurs even though the winger impressed at Rennes last week, scoring the opening goal.
“It was hard not to include him in the Tottenham game,” Lampard said. “His attitude is bang on, his work ethic, so it was a tough decision to make. When you have a top squad, fully fit, as we do now, it’s tough to leave out four or five players a game who are desperate to play, so I spoke to him personally. I wanted him to see that. He’s in progression and the main thing is that he stays positive. He took it well. His reaction in training was great.
“I can relate. We’ve all been players taking steps on the ladder. His early career has been, not strange exactly, but he got into the team young, there’s been a lot of talk, he had an injury and now he’s back working. And you stop and realise he’s still a developing player, still very young.
“It’s not nice to tell someone he’s not in the squad but I have to see the bigger picture and he has hundreds of games ahead of him. In the short term he might not like it, I get that.”
Lampard was asked whether he considered it a risk to leave out Hudson-Odoi knowing there is interest from Bayern and whether that might influence his thinking. “If I was looking at all those permutations, I would never take a decision and that’s not good,” he said. “He will get opportunities; he will get minutes against Sevilla. I’m not worried about the noise from outside, just picking the right squad.”
That means rotations, with Lampard intending to give Billy Gilmour a run out against Sevilla after the midfielder’s return from injury.
“We talk about the hectic schedule. We can’t say that and then not take measures ourselves,” Lampard said. “Some players have played a lot and then there are players who are training very well and not playing regularly.
“This is an opportunity for different players to make my choices more difficult. We’re not taking it lightly – don’t expect a drop in level – but there will be changes. We want to win the group and we’re on a good run and if you think you can just flick the switch off and then flick it on again, well, it doesn’t work that way.”