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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Maurizio Sarri: Callum Hudson-Odoi cannot start regularly for Chelsea as I also have Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro

Italian claims the frustrated teenager is a victim of tough competition for starting places at Stamford Bridge

Callum Hudson-Odoi has been warned he cannot face regular starts at Chelsea. Getty
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been warned he cannot face regular starts at Chelsea. Getty

Maurizio Sarri says Chelsea would have to sell one of their established wingers in order to satisfy Callum Hudson-Odoi's desire for immediate first-team action.

Teenage prospect Hudson-Odoi has grown restless at Stamford Bridge and handed in a January transfer request amid offers from German champions Bayern Munich.

The 18-year-old, who has yet to start a Premier League match, seized a rare opportunity by scoring the Blues' final goal in Thursday's 3-0 Europa League victory over Swedish club Malmo, wrapping up a 5-1 aggregate success.

But manager Sarri called for patience, explaining that he would need to allow Pedro, Willian or Eden Hazard to depart to accommodate Hudson-Odoi now.

"You need to understand that, in the same position, we have Pedro, Willian and Hazard," said Sarri. "I want to remind you that Callum, with this one (against Malmo), played 14 matches.

"There isn't in England another 18-year-old player with 14 matches in the first team. So I think that we are using him in the right way at the moment.

"Of course, the 20 matches this season will be 30 matches in the next, and 40 in two years.

"If I am at the club and I want Callum to play consistently, I have to sell another winger. Otherwise the manager is in trouble."

Chelsea were unimpressive during a dour opening period against Malmo, before second-half strikes from Olivier Giroud, Ross Barkley and Huson-Odoi prevented further pressure being heaped on Sarri.

The Italian has come under increased scrutiny in west London having dropped to sixth in the league and with some Blues fans joining in with chants for him to be sacked during Monday's FA Cup loss to Manchester United.

He has little time to enjoy progression to the last 16 in Europe as his team are set to contest Sunday's League Cup final with Manchester City attempting to avenge a 6-0 humiliation at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight ago.

Asked what will happen if his players repeat the opening half an hour of the Malmo performance against Pep Guardiola's champions, Sarri replied: "A disaster, of course.

"We are in a difficult moment. We had problems with the fans in the last match at home, so it's normal for the team to enter on to the pitch without confidence.

"Of course, to play our football we need confidence if we want to be in control of the match."

There were also some jeers when Sarri introduced midfielder Jorginho as a second-half substitute on Thursday.

The Italy international, signed in the summer from Sarri's former club Napoli, is regarded by many as embodying his manager's 'Sarri-ball' philosophy, a game-plan which has recently failed to produce results and critics feel is one-dimensional.

"I think in the first 30 minutes (against Malmo) we understood why Jorginho is very important for our team. We were in trouble to exit from our half, on pressing," he said.

"I hope that our fans will be able to understand that Jorginho, for us, is really a very important player."

Updated: February 22, 2019 11:32 AM

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