CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI bagged a goal as he and Reece James stepped up their returns from injury for Chelsea Under-23s against their young Southampton counterparts on Saturday afternoon at St Mary's.
The 18-year-old England international faced five months on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Burnley back in April but has edged ever closer to a first-team return – having come through the last two Chelsea Under-23 matches unscathed.
Billy Gilmour, who has also featured for the Blues' first-team in the Premier League, threaded Hudson-Odoi through with a lovely pass in the 58th minute.
The former Bayern Munich target did the rest, clipping a delightful finish over the helpless Saints 'keeper Harry Lewis.
James, who had a successful loan spell in the Championship with Wigan last term, is another Chelsea academy product looking to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori in breaking through to the Blues first-team this season under Frank Lampard.
The 19-year-old right-back's case has been helped by the downturn in form of club stalwart Cesar Azpilicueta, as well as the summer loan departure of the hapless Davide Zappacosta.
Both Hudson-Odoi and James were substituted in the 76th minute, with their young Blues team-mates able to complete the job and win 2-0 on the South Coast.
Clinton Mola scored Chelsea's second goal, heading in after Southampton failed to clear a corner.
After Sunday's showdown with league leaders Liverpool, Frank Lampard's side host Grimsby Town in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night in what could be the ideal opportunity for the 41-year-old to shuffle his pack and hand Hudson-Odoi a return – and Reece James a first-team debut.
Hudson-Odoi featured just ten times in the Premier League under Maurizio Sarri last season, but impressed enough to be handed a first pair of England caps under Gareth Southgate in March.
The Chelsea starlet came off the bench against the Czech Republic, before being trusted to start against Montenegro three days later.
Hudson-Odoi will be hoping to impress sufficiently to earn an international recall for next summer's Euro 2020 tournament. He'll face stiff competition from the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.Watch Peter Crouch duck just in time to avoid being hit on head by Kasper Schmeichel
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