Gareth Southgate aimed a subtle dig in the direction of Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri over his handling of Callum Hudson-Odoi by claiming he won’t wait around for clubs to ‘pick a player 100 times’ if they’re ‘ready’.
Sarri has used the 18-year-old sparingly at Stamford Bridge this season, often playing down expectations and saying he won’t be a top player until he’s in his early 20s, but Southgate disagreed with that assessment and ‘won’t hesitate to start him’ in England’s upcoming fixtures against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
Chelsea are at risk of losing the incredibly talented winger this summer, with Bayern Munich among the clubs hoping to prise him away and Hudson-Odoi currently unwilling to sign a new deal.
His main frustration is a lack of game time and Southgate echoed many frustrated Chelsea fans’ thoughts by insisting he ‘looks every inch an England international’.
‘They’ve been exceptional in training,’ Southgate said of Hudson-Odoi and Jadon Sancho. ‘We’re really excited.
‘We’ve lost a lot of players but it’s opportunities for others. They’ve been excellent. ‘Throughout the age groups they’ve been very similar in their development. Jadon has obviously had more big match experience at this point. He has been with us as a senior team for a bit longer.
‘But Callum has fitted in brilliantly. I’ve won’t hesitate to start either of them in the game. They’re ready. They can play no problem for us.’ Asked what qualities Hudson-Odoi had shown to impress him, he said: ‘Ability and mentality.
‘I know a lot has been said about what’s the selection policy, is it on form or capability… in the end, the players have to have the quality to play in this shirt. ‘Ideally you’d have them all playing regularly and ideally they’d have a certain number of games for their clubs but I can’t wait for clubs to pick players 50 or 100 times.
That’s not the landscape we’re operating in. ‘What we’ve seen are players who are good enough. So we’ll pick them, we’ll play them. I’ve got no hesitation. Callum’s fitted in. He looks every inch an England international in training and I wouldn’t hesitate to start him in any of the games.
‘He doesn’t look fazed by it at all. I think young people today actually have great belief, have great confidence in their ability and aren’t fazed by being surrounded by older, more experienced players.
‘He’s training every day with top players anyway. He knows Jadon from the junior teams. ’Southgate, meanwhile, confirmed Marcus Rashford had been sent home from international duty.
‘He’s been with the medical team all week,’ the former Aston Villa centre-half added. ‘It’s clear to us he’s not ready for our matches, so we have sent him back to his club. He is out of the two games.’