Frank Lampard has pledged to give Callum Hudson-Odoi time to hit back to top form after the England forward struggled in the Boxing Day loss to Southampton.
Hudson-Odoi suffered a torn Achilles tendon in April and while he has battled quickly back into action, Blues manager Lampard maintains that the 19-year-old is still moving past that injury setback.
Hudson-Odoi lost possession in the build-up to Michael Obafemi’s opener as Saints condemned Chelsea to consecutive Premier League home defeats for the first time since 2011, but retains his manager’s full support.
The disappointing Southampton loss was Hudson-Odoi’s first Chelsea start since October, but Lampard has full confidence in one of his most promising young stars.
“I thought he put in a lot of effort; he was trying things and making runs,” said Lampard.
“It wasn’t quite coming off for him in the first half, and overall in fact.
“He’s coming off the back of a big injury and this is certainly a period where we have to stick with him through that.”
Nathan Redmond sealed Saints’ fourth win in six league matches by prodding home in the second half to stun Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.
Lampard was left to admit the loss was almost a carbon copy of the 1-0 home reverse to Bournemouth on December 14, which had left him demanding more personality and bravery from his Blues squad.
Chelsea’s fine 2-0 derby victory at Tottenham ensured Lampard’s men remained in fourth and above Jose Mourinho’s Spurs in spite of the lacklustre Saints loss.
But Lampard and Chelsea inch towards the turn of the year with a desperate search for an upswing in home form well underway.
Hudson-Odoi is seeking an upturn in personal fortunes himself, but Lampard hailed the youngster’s hard-working attitude as key to his ambitions.
“He’s very young, there was a lot of talk last year about his contract, would he or wouldn’t he sign it, and now he has,” said Lampard.
“And now he’s in a period where he has to get his head down and work, and he knows that, to show what he can be for this club. It’s down to him now.
“And I showed faith with him and I’ll continue to do that, but we also have to go with him a bit.
“I’ve sat here and probably been a bit harsh on him at times, but now is not the moment to do that because I think I saw an effort and desire, and I’ve seen it in training in the last couple of weeks.”