Thomas Tuchel has rejected suggestions that Chelsea’s injury crisis in attack can be a turning point for Callum Hudson-Odoi, saying that the winger will be on the right track only once he has produced 250 good performances in a row.
Hudson-Odoi could be set for a rare run in the starting XI after Romelu Lukaku, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner were ruled out of Chelsea’s game against Norwich City on Saturday. Lukaku is expected to be out for at least a fortnight after twisting an ankle against Malmö on Wednesday, while there is no timeframe on Werner’s return from a hamstring injury. The disruption will force Tuchel to come up with a different attacking formula.
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Kai Havertz is poised to start as a false nine against Norwich and Hudson-Odoi, who impressed after coming on for Werner against Malmö, is unlikely to get a better chance to prove he deserves a more prominent role. The 20-year-old has made only two starts in the league this season and Tuchel sounded exasperated after being asked whether this was a chance for the youngster to revive his Chelsea career.
“The only person who can decide this and answer this question is Callum,” Chelsea’s manager said. “It’s as easy as that. Is there a turning point? OK, he needs to prove it. He needs to play the next 250 games on the highest level and then that was the turning point. But is it a turning point if he does a brilliant match tomorrow? No.
“It’s only a turning point if he makes it a turning point – and only if he does not only do one good match, one good half, 60 good minutes, but if he does it consistently,” Tuchel added. “It’s as easy as that with every player.”
“Once you do this you will have more minutes. Once you have more minutes you will maybe look back and say: ‘That was a turning point.’ You need to fight for it. You need to deserve it. It must be a perfect fit in a perfect moment. Sometimes you need a bit of luck. But in the end the only person who can answer that question is Callum. And we will support him.”
Tuchel added that this was an important period for Havertz and Mason Mount. Havertz, who came off the bench to score against Malmö, has been inconsistent of late and Mount is yet to score this season.
“It’s a big opportunity because Romelu gets a lot of minutes, Timo gets a lot of minutes,” Tuchel said. “Now is the moment to step up.” Hakim Ziyech is another attacking option. The Moroccan has struggled since a shoulder injury in August. “I don’t feel him 100% free with his shoulders,” Tuchel said. “I think he needs time and patience to fight his way back into the team.”
Tuchel clarified comments that he made last week about a potential move for the Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. Dortmund have reportedly not reacted well after Tuchel told the German newspaper Bild that Chelsea “are talking regularly” about Haaland.
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“I fell into a trap,” Tuchel said. “I got an award in Germany. I got an award from a newspaper. They gave me this award and asked me about a player. Normally I never speak about other players.
“I should have known better because in making fun about it and being a nice guy to answer a question, getting this award, I joke about a double striker with Romelu in October and it gets like we put an offer in. I should have known better.”
Tuchel, who was tight-lipped about a potential new long-term deal for Mount, said he had no problem with Norwich’s use of Billy Gilmour since signing the midfielder on loan. Gilmour, who is ineligible on Saturday, has not played since 21 September.Internet Explorer Channel Network