ASHLEY COLE hopes Callum Hudson-Odoi will rethink his strategy of ducking out of Under-21 duty after seeing the senior promotion of Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher.
Hudson-Odoi, who has three senior caps, has opted not to turn out for the Young Lions this term and focus instead on breaking into the Chelsea first team.
But it is looking like an error as had he been with the Under-21s, he could well have been called up to Gareth Souhtgate’s England squad after it was ravaged by injury.
That was what happened to Arsenal star Smith Rowe and Crystal Palace loanee Gallagher, who both featured in Monday night's 10-0 win in San Marino.
Cole knows Hudson-Odoi well from his time working at Chelsea as a youth coach and is also the assistant to Under-21s boss Lee Carsley.
The Three Lions legend said: “Him not coming here is a big loss for us because he is a top quality player and of course he would add a lot of quality to this group.
“He felt maybe he wanted to stay behind and get his fitness up to try to get into the Chelsea team first. We have to be understanding within that.
“The door is always open for young quality players. I feel maybe him seeing Emile or Conor getting the opportunity hopefully now he will change his mind and come and join us.”
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England’s Under-21s take on Georgia in a friendly in Batumi at 2pm today and Cole knows the team would have been stronger had Hudson-Odoi been in attendance.
He added: “The pathway is there and Gareth has given players a lot of opportunities now.
“Hopefully he can get his opportunity. But as a group we for sure would miss top-quality players because he would add to our squad for sure.”
Hudson-Odoi has played nine times for the U21s so far in his career, scoring four times.
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