'I will certainly stick with him' - Chelsea boss Lampard defends Hudson-Odoi from social media criticism

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has defended winger Callum Hudson-Odoi after the teenager has become a target of derision from some fans on social media in recent weeks.

Hudson-Odoi has come in for criticism from some sections of Chelsea's fan base after struggling to reach his best form after coming back from an Achilles tendon rupture suffered in April.

The 19-year-old signed a lucrative new deal worth £180,000 per week in that time, which ended Bayern Munich's six-month effort to sign him.

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Lampard has revealed he has been having regular conversations with Hudson-Odoi and that he needs thick skin to come through the recent harsh words written about him online.

"Unfortunately with social media that is par for the course, it doesn't make it right or wrong," Lampard said. "I haven't seen it but unfortunately that is something that you have to have a very thick skin about.

"I said it after the Southampton game, he is a young player, just 19, had a lot of talk about him for different reasons which is not all of his doing, there has been a big microscope on him and I think we actually do have to give him time and patience with how young he is.

"I have got no problems with him, I thought he did well when he came on at Arsenal, that should be a nice little boost for him and I think Chelsea fans will be absolutely behind him. They want to see passion, they want to see all those things as well as the ability to go past people which he has got.

"He needs to understand what is needed and he is working on that constantly, I'll back him and work with him on that. At 19 it is a lot to say that one performance, something where he plays the other day where he comes in after being out of the team, 'you must produced instantly or you'll get social media giving it to you'.

"We have to be level-headed and I will certainly try and protect him against that. Little snippets like against Arsenal, coming on and looking bright, going past people and hitting cross-field passes. He needs to develop more but he absolutely has the talent to do a lot more.

"At 19 there are not too many that are playing in the Premier League every week, especially at a club like ourselves. He does have competition in those areas. His consistency needs to be how he works, how he trains every day and how much pressure he puts on me to play him and get into the team.

"That is one thing he will strive for but from all the conversations I have had with him in the last few weeks - and I have had a few - he understands what he needs to do on and off the pitch. I will certainly stick with him."

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham Chelsea
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham Chelsea

Chelsea had a clean bill of health in recent weeks but they have recently seen a run of niggling injuries take hold over the winter period.

This is a worry ahead of another tough away trip to Brighton on Wednesday, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Reece James and Marcos Alonso having missed some matches over the festive period. Lampard is hoping none of the absences are particularly long term.

"[For Pulisic], It is a small hamstring [problem]. I wouldn't even call it an injury - after the Southampton game the lads did some strides and he felt cramp," Lampard said. "He has trained at a low level; for me it was more precautionary against Arsenal. We need our wingers; we need him going into an important period.

"[Reece James is] hopefully a week or 10 days. He's had a bit of a niggle around his ankle injury which he had surgery on in pre-season so that was a bit of a worry, the doctors are saying it will be a week or so.

"Alonso is similar; it is a back - top of the glute - kind of muscle injury. They are both in a similar boat, not terrible injuries but missing at a pretty crucial time.

"[Cesar Azpilicueta] felt it at Tottenham and came off towards the end, against Southampton he was feeling it during the game but with Reece James injured the options are less - he's a fighter so he stayed on.

"But today he says that he felt better so fingers crossed it will be more precautionary."

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