As the full-time whistle went, Callum Hudson-Odoi pulled his shirt over his face and rued a missed opportunity with the final kick of the game. Such reactions have become an all too regular sight in the past few weeks as the teenager has tried to rediscover his form.
Except this time the anguished gesture came at the end of the 19-year-old’s finest performance since returning from the ruptured achilles sustained in April, scoring the opening goal and providing an assist of sorts for Ross Barkley in a rare routine home win for Frank Lampard’s team against Nottingham Forest.
Hudson-Odoi was outstanding, a year to the day since he rose to wider prominence against the same opponents in the FA Cup, and it will have boosted him further to learn of the head coach singing his praises.
“A good performance and pleased to see him high up the pitch, pleased to see him being aggressive in how he gets at people, which is what he is there for,” Lampard assessed.
In the build-up to this game the assistant manager Jody Morris had spoken about how Hudson-Odoi, working hard to emerge from the first road bump of a career that has otherwise been plain-sailing, was asking to go through additional video clips of recent performances in an attempt to understand which specific areas he can improve.
Morris also stressed how a player who had been used to being the star at every underage group is facing a series of new challenges: from adapting to a new style of play, becoming accustomed to playing in fixtures of real consequence and, more importantly, overcoming the first real injury of his career.
That also goes to explain why a deathly silence fell on Stamford Bridge late in the first half when he went down off the ball following a tangling of legs with a Forest defender and clutched the same right achilles in which he ruptured the tendon against Burnley last April.
An ice pack was swiftly applied, Morris stood up from his seat in the dugout to try and get a better sense of…