Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has doubled down on his decision to substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi 30 minutes after bringing him on in the recent 1-1 draw with Southampton.
Tuchel created real controversy when he hauled the young winger off late in the second half, and his decision to publicly admit that he was unimpressed with Hudson-Odoi’s attitude and work rate only made matters worse.
The boss was adamant that it was not a personal decision and rather one he had to make for the good of the team, and he again insisted that Hudson-Odoi still has the chance to start in Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid.
“It is not a big thing at all for me,” Tuchel said (via the club’s official website). “I have spoken to Callum, and I’ve spoken to the whole group. Sometimes, these things happen in football and it was just my decision.
“Maybe I was being harsh on him because he was on my side of the pitch and I was up close to him, but I did not feel that he was really into the game. I didn’t think he was totally sharp and that is why I took a hard decision on him. But that decision was in the moment and for that day only. For me, this is absolutely not a big thing and only becomes one if people want to talk about it.
“Callum has been fantastic for me so far and it’s on him to show me that every game and every day in training. I want him to show me that he is a reliable guy for the team when he comes on from the bench, like he is when he starts.
“He has started a lot of games for me and in this instance, he has taken a hard decision. Now he must swallow it and come into training ready to work ahead of Atletico, a game which he has every chance of starting.”
Alongside Hudson-Odoi, Tuchel will have to make a decision on striker Tammy Abraham, who was the man replaced by the winger at half-time against Southampton. The boss admitted Abraham struggled to make an impact on the game, but whether he will be given a chance to atone for his error remains to be seen.
Olivier Giroud is waiting in the wings, fresh off his four-goal haul against Sevilla during his last Champions League start, and Tuchel may prefer to call on someone with a little more experience for such a big tie.
Despite Atletico’s status as La Liga leaders, they will come into this game on a miserable run of form – one win in the last four games – and they will also be weakened by the absences of Kieran Tripper, Yannick Carrasco, Hector Herrera and Chelsea target Jose Gimenez.