England match-winner Ross Barkley has backed Callum Hudson-Odoi to star after the Chelsea team-mates helped the Three Lions thrash Montenegro 5-1.
Despite finding themselves a goal behind to a Marko Vesovic goal, Michael Keane headed England level before Ross Barkley put the visitors ahead at the interval.
Barkley bagged another, before Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling put icing on the cake.
And Barkley heaped praise upon his club and country team-mate, whose shot he turned in for England’s second goal.
“From minute one in training, he has been top drawer,” the central midfielder told ITV when pressed about Hudson-Odoi. “Everyone’s been talking, a few of the lads have been saying how good he looks.
“He fully deserved to start today.
AS IT HAPPENED: England thrash Montenegro thanks to Barkley brace
“Montenegro was always going to be tough for us. They started well, but we showed character and came back.”
England manager Gareth Southgate echoed Barkley’s praise of Hudson-Odoi.
The former Middlesbrough manager added: “I am really pleased, the game was a simple one, we talked all week about using our width and using our wingers and our wingers were very productive on the night.
“Callum Hudson-Odoi put in a fabulous performance in which showed what he showed us all week.
“I don’t need to speak, his performance spoke. With young players it is always up to them.
“You can see the talent, the application with us has been excellent, he has got to continue that, this is a great step forward for him.
“But like any player you have got to continue to improve.”
Montenegro’s shock early lead came about after Wandsworth-born Hudson-Odoi, still just 18, conceded possession easily.
And perhaps it was the maturity in his response which confirmed the youngster has some future ahead of him.
He said: “Hopefully I did well, but It is a team performance. We reacted strong, Ross with the two goals.
“I think I reacted slow to the ball and they scored from it. You have always got to react positively to it.
“If you make a mistake, you keep going.”