Thomas Tuchel explained his decision for leaving Tammy Abraham out of the squad for Sunday’s clash with Manchester United – insisting it was purely tactical.
And the Chelsea manager also revealed the striker’s struggles to fit in with his system since taking over at Stamford Bridge.
Abraham has started four of Chelsea’s nine games under Tuchel – but was twice hooked at half time in those matches.
Addressing his absence from squad for the 0-0 draw with United, the German made it clear that the decision was down to form, not fitness.
“Things are difficult for him,” said Tuchel. “Things are not as easy as they should be for him in the moment and he will get full support. This was the decision.
“At the moment he is only struggling with my decision. We have a strong squad. We have only Thiago Silva injured that means we have to take hard decisions.
“We can nominate 18 players, plus goalkeepers so it is clear. It was also an unfair decision for Billy Gilmour because Billy played well in the cup and he was very, very strong in training.
“It was a hard decision. It was about judging the alternatives that we have and we opted for Oli (Giroud) to begin, Timo (Werner) on the bench. We have Kai (Havertz) who can play as a No9 so there was no need to bring a fourth No9 to the pitch.”
Asked how Abraham could force his way back into the team, Tuchel added: “It is totally natural. He has to do exactly what he does, train well, be in a good mood and accept that he is a striker for Chelsea so this is the highest competition in Europe.
“When you play for Chelsea, it is a difficult decision I have to take and I am very, very happy when I have to take them because it means everybody is on board.
“This is what you sign up for if you are a player for Chelsea, a coach for Chelsea that these moments arrive. “There is no other answer to it other than to accept it and be there for tomorrow to fight for your place in the squad. I am sure he will do it.”
Tuchel also revealed his decision for substituting Callum Hudson-Odoi at half time.
He added: “He was a little bit injured. The reason was a tactical decision and little injury combination because we switched to a back five in defence and covered the right position of (Marcus) Rashford in between (Cesar Azpilicueta)) Azpi and Reece James in the second half. It was not an option to use Callum there. That’s why it was a tactical choice.”