Thomas Tuchel criticised Callum Hudson-Odoi’s “attitude” after hauling off the England forward in Chelsea’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton.
Hudson-Odoi was sent into action at half-time to replace Tammy Abraham, who had picked up another ankle problem.
But Blues boss Tuchel hooked the 20-year-old after just 31 minutes of action in the second-half, sending in Hakim Ziyech for the closing stages at St Mary’s Stadium.
Confirming Hudson-Odoi was not injured when withdrawn, Tuchel insisted he attaches no deep meaning to substituting a substitute and was adamant the issue would be “forgotten” by Sunday.
Asked about Hudson-Odoi, Tuchel replied: “No, it was not injury-related; I was not happy with his attitude, energy and counter-pressing.
“In a game where it’s hard to create chances, you need to rely on counter-pressing to force maybe errors, to get a second ball and get an easy chance.
“For that we have to be totally on and totally showing for counter-pressing. And I did not feel this from Callum today.
“He missed some opportunities for counter-pressing, he missed some easy balls. I had the feeling he was never really into the game.
“You know that I trust him a lot because he plays every game for us. But today I was close to him. I don’t know, maybe it was even unfair but I did not get the feeling today that I normally get from him that he can be decisive.
No, it was not injury-related; I was not happy with his attitude, energy and counter-pressingThomas Tuchel on Callum Hudson-Odoi
“It’s a hard decision today but nothing that will stick between us or stick for long. Tomorrow it’s forgotten and we prepare for Atletico.”
Takumi Minamino struck a fine goal after latching onto Nathan Redmond’s smart through-ball to put Saints ahead against the run of play on the south coast.
Mason Mount had to slot a penalty to rescue Chelsea a point, with Saints ending their record run of six-straight Premier League defeats.
Hudson-Odoi’s withdrawal will ruminate in the coming days for Chelsea, but taskmaster boss Tuchel insisted he still trusts his star winger.
Asked if hooking Hudson-Odoi will dent his confidence, Tuchel replied: “No, absolutely not. Everyone has to understand that I make decisions to win games.
“There is no problem that he makes mistakes, has a bad game, or misses, but we can’t lack energy even 10 per cent or five per cent. It’s not possible. I know what he can give and it’s why I trust him a lot.
“That will not change. He knows exactly what I demand from him and when he doesn’t reach this level, maybe it means a hard decision like today.
“There is no need to think in old-fashioned terms that this is the worst thing that can ever happen, no.
“Tomorrow it’s already over and maybe he starts against Atletico if we need his qualities. But then he needs to be trustworthy and reliable and this is the next step for him.
“He’s a bit in trouble when he comes off the bench, it was like this against Sheffield (United) and today.
“So it’s on him to improve because we need him in some games from the bench, to hang in a different way.
“But now it’s forgotten and he has step up, learn from it, swallow it, and there’s no problem.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was left to toast a vital point, as the hosts ended their miserable recent run of league results.
“This result gives us a lift mentally, because we didn’t get what we deserved in the last few weeks,” said Hasenhuttl.
“To take a point against Chelsea is not easy. But a few parts of our game were very good today.
“The goal was exactly what we are trying to do, beautifully played.”