Callum Hudson-Odoi handed warning by Chelsea legend – ‘a big loss’

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Chelsea icon Ashley Cole has urged Callum Hudson-Odoi to reconsider his England U21 stance after seeing Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher fast-tracked into Gareth Southgate’s side.

The Blues ace has managed to muscle his way into Thomas Tuchel’s plans this year but has made little progress on the international front after shunning various opportunities with England’s youth teams.

Hudson-Odoi has turned down two call-ups from U21 boss Lee Carsley in recent months as he focuses on cementing a starting berth under Tuchel in the long term.

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But Cole hopes that Hudson-Odoi will reconsider after seeing Smith Rowe and Gallagher being handed their opportunities to shine in the senior ranks by Southgate; with the two stars playing pivotal roles for the U21s before their call-up against San Marino.

“The door is always open for young quality players,” said Cole, who is now a coach with the England U21. “I feel maybe him seeing Emile or Conor getting the opportunity hopefully now he will change his mind and come and join us.

“Him not coming here is a big loss for us because he is a top-quality player and of course he would add a lot of quality to this group.

“He felt maybe he wanted to stay behind and get his fitness up to try to get into the Chelsea team first. We have to be understanding within that.

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“I feel maybe him seeing Emile or Conor getting the opportunity hopefully now he will change his mind and come and join us. The pathway is there and Gareth has given players a lot of opportunities now. Hopefully, he can get his opportunity. But as a group, we for sure would miss top quality players because he would add to our squad for sure.”

Although Hudson-Odoi has racked up 11 appearances for the Blues this season, the majority of those have been in an unorthodox right wing-back role.

Fortunately for the 21-year-old, Chelsea’s injury crisis over the past few weeks has gifted him an unexpected opportunity to impress Tuchel in his preferred spot on the left of a front three.

Despite Cole’s stance on Hudson-Odoi and the England U21, former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright has a different take.

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He gets Hudson-Odoi’s stance of not wanting to play for the youth sides after breaking in and playing regularly at a club challenging for the Premier League title.

“That is the kind of player you want to see, you want to see players of that calibre getting towards the full international squad instead of playing in Under-21s,” Wright said on ITV when discussing Gallagher.

“I would say the same of Callum Hudson-Odoi.

“He’s broken into the Chelsea side as tough as it is, he’s had a career-threatening injury, why would you want to play in the Under-21s?

“That doesn’t get you into the first team. Playing well for your club like Conor is and like Callum is doing, that is what gets you in there.

“And it is good to see people like Conor get in there. Hopefully, he can continue.”

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