The full-back pointed to the England winger’s age as he called for patience, while also praising Christian Pulisic for his impact in the game
Cesar Azpilicueta has backed Callum Hudson-Odoi to be a “massive player” for Chelsea despite him failing to have a significant impact in his side’s 1-0 win over Ajax.
The 18-year-old struggled in his first Champions League start, with the Blues needing Michy Batshuayi’s late strike to earn them all three points in the Group H encounter.
And Azpilicueta has nothing but praise for the winger, insisting that he will continue to learn and improve as he works with the more experienced players in the squad.
Reviewing Hudson-Odoi’s performance, he said: “We can’t forget that Callum is 18 years old and his progression in the last 12-15 months, with an injury in between… we have to be realistic.
“The way he worked for the team, the way he always showed the ability to get the ball, to dribble, not to have any fear and hide in-between the full-back, I think Callum is a very important player for us.
“He’s going to be a massive player in the future for Chelsea but we have to accept the progression. To be 18 years old and the way he’s playing is amazing. The players who have more experience in these games try to help the young lads.
“For some of them it’s the first year in the Premier League, the first year in the Champions League, so we have to be a help for all of them, use our experience to keep them confident and make them express themselves the way they have been doing in the academy.
“It is very important for them to feel confident. It is the way we are working but a lot of credit goes to them because they are good lads, they listen, they want to improve in every training session and learn from the more experienced players, the manager and the staff. It is the right way to keep improving.”
It was Pulisic that created the winning goal for Batshuayi in the 86th-minute and Azpilicueta has been impressed with the work the USMNT Pulisic has been doing behind the scenes after a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge.
“Christian has been working very hard, we know that only 11 can start and seven subs are on the bench,” he added. “So fair play to Christian for continuing to work hard. When he has come on in the last two games he has made a significant impact and he changed the game.
“He nearly got an assist last Saturday but he was running at people, he was taking people on, creating chances and tonight he got the assist. We are here to work as a team, we know that everybody is important and we have to all go in the same direction.
“Christian is 21 and he has been playing since he was young at Dortmund. But England is different. The pace of the game is different and we cannot forget this as well. Since Christian arrived from the beginning he has been very good.
“Sometimes you need more time to adapt to the game but he has done it in the last two games. That’s what we need Christian to do but we need to keep calm, to work with the young lads, we know that.
“We have a young squad but we have been working really hard since pre-season and the only way I see this team improving is by the work ethic that we have had in every training session and every game. I am very pleased for Christian because it is a good moment for him.”
After managing just one clean sheet in 12 games before the international break, the Blues have now had two shut-outs in a row and Azpilicueta expressed his frustration at his own form at the start of the season.
“I have this passion for defending and not conceding goals,” he added. “Obviously at the beginning of the season we were conceding a lot of goals so I was not pleased at all and I was not happy with myself. My job is to keep clean sheets and help the team.
“I know I got criticism, which was fair, because I was not at my level. My job is to work hard in training sessions, to work on my game, to keep improving and obviously I am very pleased to keep two clean sheets in a row. I am happy with the three points against a very strong side.”