Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has backed out-of-form Callum Hudson-Odoi to return to his best despite a poor display against Southampton on Boxing Day.
The 19-year-old was substituted for Christian Pulisic on the 67th-minute mark as his side fell to a 2-0 home defeat against Southampton. The defeat marked the Blues’ third loss of the season at Stamford Bridge, while 2019/20 is officially the club’s worst half-season in terms of points tally in the entire Roman Abramovich era.
Much of the team has struggled for form in recent weeks. However, Lampard put no blame on youngster Hudson-Odoi, who is still recovering from a ruptured his Achilles, which he suffered back in April.
“I thought he [Hudson-Odoi] put in a lot of effort; he was trying things and making runs, it wasn’t quite coming off for him in the first half, and overall in fact,” said Lampard, via FourFourTwo.
However, Lampard offered his support to the England international, adding: “He’s coming off the back of a big injury and this is certainly a period where we have to stick with him through that.”
Chelsea’s loss to Southampton meant Chelsea had recorded back-to-back home defeats for the first time since 2011, having also fallen to a 1-0 loss against Bournemouth on 14 December.
Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday put Lampard’s side in a well-placed position to finish the year in the top four places, with a view of retaining a Champions League spot for the 2020/21 season.
It has also been a positive year for Hudson-Odoi on a personal level, having signed a bumper five-year contract back in September.
“He’s very young, there was a lot of talk last year about his contract, would he or wouldn’t he sign it, and now he has,” added Lampard.
“And now he’s in a period where he has to get his head down and work, and he knows that, to show what he can be for this club. It’s down to him now.
“And I showed faith with him and I’ll continue to do that, but we also have to go with him a bit.
“I’ve sat here and probably been a bit harsh on him at times, but now is not the moment to do that because I think I saw an effort and desire, and I’ve seen it in training in the last couple of weeks.”
Chelsea return to Premier League action on Sunday as they travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, before heading to the Amex Stadium to take on Brighton on Wednesday afternoon.