Callum Hudson-Odoi starred in Chelsea’s development side’s 2-1 win against Brighton on Friday evening, making his first appearance since his season was cut short by injury.
An Achilles tendon rupture ended the teenage England star’s campaign last term but he completed 60 minutes of the Premier League 2 game at Stamford Bridge.
He was a constant threat and teed up Henry Lawrence for the opener after 19 minutes.
His deft pass to the outside enabled the overlapping Lawrence to burst into the box and curl a shot past the goalkeeper Tom McGill into the far corner of the net.
The goal felt a long time coming, as Chelsea dominated the opening exchanges and should have scored sooner when Tariq Lamptey headed Hudson-Odoi’s superb delivery wide of the post.
And after the hosts went ahead, Hudson-Odoi dispossessed Archie Davies before whipping in a dangerous cross Lamptey narrowly missed.
Hudson-Odoi was the standout performer – when he was not beating defenders with jinking runs, he drew them out of position to find team-mates behind the defence.
He produced another moment of brilliance towards the end of the first half when, under duress, he drifted in between Jordan Davies and Jack Spong to engineer a promising move.
It would come to nothing but that breathtaking bit of skill demonstrated, not only why he has so many admirers, but also why Chelsea are desperate to tie him to a new contract.
The final 15 minutes of his hour-long cameo would see more glimpses of quality before he was replaced at half-time by 17-year-old Faustino Anjorin.
The question now is when, not if, he will be back in the main Chelsea fold – and how far he can go under Frank Lampard’s leadership in a young, exciting team