Warnock: Hudson-Odoi’s worth a start

Neil Warnock says he would play Callum Hudson-Odoi against his Cardiff side after being more impressed with his England efforts than the teenager’s own Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.

The clamour for winger Hudson-Odoi to make his first Premier League start has grown since the 18-year-old shone in England’s 5-1 victory over Montenegro in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday.

Sarri refused to get carried away before Chelsea’s trip to Cardiff on Sunday, saying he did not watch the majority of Hudson-Odoi’s first competitive England start and insisting that the quality of some national teams is “very low”.

England Training – St George’s Park
Callum Hudson-Odoi has made the right impression with England (Anthony Devlin/PA)

But Cardiff manager Warnock said: “I would give Callum a game after his England performance.

“If Callum is playing, then I think it’s on merit. It’s an exciting time for all the kids coming through in Gareth Southgate’s (England) squad.

“But Chelsea have such a choice, don’t they?

“Whoever plays in the first two positions, I’ll be quite pleased to see the other two on the bench.”

Neil Warnock File Photo
Neil Warnock highlighted Chelsea’s quality ahead of their match against his Cardiff team (Aaron Chown/PA)

Cardiff remain in the relegation zone with eight matches remaining and have yet to pick up a point against top-six opponents this season.

The Bluebirds face a difficult run-in with home games against Chelsea and Liverpool and visits to Manchester City and Manchester United to come.

But Warnock insists there is as much pressure on Chelsea as Cardiff to collect points, with Sarri’s side having ground to make up in the race for a top-four place.

“They are sixth in the table and not guaranteed a Champions League position,” he said. “They are under enormous pressure as well.

Maurizio Sarri File Photo
Maurizio Sarri and his Chelsea players had a challenging time at Everton (Steven Paston/PA)

“After the Everton game – where they could have been 4-0 up and ended up losing 2-0 – I would imagine they will be looking at this fixture and thinking they can get back on the road.

“That’s understandable when they look at our results against the other top sides and, if everything goes to plan on a good day for them, they will beat us.

“But if we get ourselves up for it, we can give these teams a good game – especially at home.”

Cardiff beat West Ham three weeks ago in their last fixture before the international break.

And Warnock is convinced that it is not only the clubs directly above them that are in relegation danger.

Southampton v Cardiff City – Premier League – St Mary’s Stadium
Sol Bamba’s season is over (Mark Kerton/PA)

“It’s not just Burnley or Southampton who could be caught,” said Warnock, who has lost key pair Callum Paterson and Sol Bamba to season-ending injuries.

“There are other clubs above us who could also be feeling nervous.

“Anyone could have a disaster, lose four or five games and then find themselves in trouble.

“West Ham was our best performance of the season and that was because we all turned up. We need that again.”