Monday, May 20News That Matters

Graham Potter hails Chelsea’s ‘next Hazard’ who joined from rivals Arsenal

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has heaped praise on summer signing Omari Hutchinson after his side’s friendly match against Aston Villa.

Hutchinson joined from Arsenal over the summer as the Blues – with previous coach Thomas Tuchel still at the helm – made a push for youngsters. They also spent big to sign Chukwuemeka from Villa & Casadei from Inter Milan, among others.

Hutchinson scored five goals for Chelsea’s under-21 team in Premier League 2 before the World Cup break and made the bench for three first-team matches without making it onto the pitch.

After travelling with the senior team for their mid-season camp in Abu Dhabi, though, the teenager once compared to Eden Hazard has had a chance to impress the manager.

“It was a good game, [a] good performance from a young team playing against a really experienced Premier League side, so we’ve had a fantastic week, actually,” Potter said after the 1-0 defeat.

Potter added: “[It is] Good to work with the boys that are here. Lads that have been injured have had a bit more time training and they’ve stepped their rehab on, so that’s good. They’re getting closer and it’s been really, really positive to work in these conditions and we’re happy with the week.”

The Chelsea head coach confirmed Reece James, Wesley Fofana and Chukwuemeka are making progress on their way back to full fitness.

As for Hutchinson, Potter said: “He was really good, dangerous and asked a question all the time. Throughout the game, he showed his quality but he wasn’t the only one. It was a spirited performance with a lot of young players so it was good.”

Hutchinson was named among Chelsea’s substitutes for three of their last four matches. He sat on the bench for the league games against Brighton and Newcastle, as well as the EFL Cup meeting with Man City, but didn’t make it onto the pitch as Potter’s side lost all three games.

After their cup exit, Chelsea have a two-week wait until their next competitive game. They host Bournemouth in the Premier League on December 27 before travelling to Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.

“We’ve got a full week’s training when we get back and then we have a friendly the following week, so that will be good,” Potter said after the Villa game. “There’s a few more guys coming back from the World Cup, so it’s moving nicely.”

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