Thomas Tuchel has given his view on Tammy Abraham’s potential return to the team after injury and the roles played in the squad by youngsters Billy Gilmour and Tino Anjorin.
Abraham has been out of action recently as he struggled to shake off the knock he suffered when on the receiving end of a heavy challenge in our 2-0 win over Newcastle United last month, but Tuchel has confirmed the striker is back training and could be involved as early as tomorrow’s FA Cup tie with Sheffield United.
With that in mind, our head coach discussed the difficulties Abraham has faced in coming back from that troublesome injury, with the frustration of not being able to contribute fully in training as he tries to fight for a starting spot in the team, along with two thwarted attempts to get back in the action as the pain returned.
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‘This was hard for him because he never felt fully free, he never felt fully painless after this tackle, so it was hard for him to really perform on the level that you need to perform in training to convince your coach to leave somebody else out,’ explained Tuchel.
‘He had a bit of a tough time because he started twice for us in the league, got substituted twice, we did not have the easiest games, he could not find the momentum once he got the bad tackle.
Tuchel also revealed he feels some responsibility himself for Abraham’s difficulties, as his frequent changes to our front line have made it harder for him to recover his rhythm.
‘I think he also suffers a little bit from me not finding the real formation up front, like let’s play always like this, this is your position, these are the guys you compete against. It’s a bit more complex because I need to get to know the team better.
‘Sometimes we play with wingers, sometimes we play more with number 10s, we have Timo who can play as a number nine, we have Oli and Kai who can play number nine, so he suffers a little bit from all these circumstances. It’s not his fault, it’s maybe more my fault than his fault.
‘We’ve had some talks to encourage him to never give in, to accept the situation, to not overthink it and to just come back to momentum in training, which is what a striker needs, to be in the flow and not overthink it and to stay positive even if the team is winning now without him.
‘This can happen that you feel a little bit excluded but it’s not like this with him, so hopefully he can be back now in the squad, be totally free.’
Tuchel also admitted he feels some responsibility for the situation of Gilmour, who after staying at Chelsea instead of moving on loan, made his only appearance for the German in the last round of the FA Cup. However, our head coach insists he does not regret the decision to keep the young midfielder here, despite the strong competition he faces for a spot in the team.
‘It was absolutely no mistake and not his choice, it was my choice. The choice was made for Chelsea, he accepted it in a five-minute talk, he had no problem with it. I truly hope that he knows how much I appreciate him as a person and as a footballer.
‘He has three big problems – N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho. They are never injured and they perform on a level in central midfield which is not easy to compete with. This is the only thing, I have no trust issue with him, I have no problem with his attitude.
‘We take the decisions for Chelsea, the squad is not too big and I feel that Billy is a strong part of the squad. I know that it is hard for him and we talk now several times because sometimes he does not make it to the team because we play with two central midfielders and I already have one of the three guys I mentioned on the bench.
‘But it does not mean that when you are out of the squad like Billy that you first have to find your way back to the bench and then find your way back for five minutes and then you can start. You can start right away the next game, it can happen when you train in a positive attitude like Billy and with the quality that he shows. So this is the situation, I’m super happy that he is here, we need four strong midfielders and we have four.’
Another young player who made his only appearance for Tuchel in that FA Cup win over Barnsley was Anjorin, and our head coach revealed the 19-year-old has made a big early impression on him.
‘I did not know much about him and I got to know him here from the first day and I was very impressed, because he is a very physical player, a tall guy and a strong guy. He has the ability to keep the ball under pressure because he has the body and the physical ability to play and train with us on this level.
‘He had some minutes in Barnsley in the cup game, we try to involve him now in the group against Sheffield United because he trains very well. He is very strong in finishing in our training, he is a very nice character, another nice guy from the Academy, very humble and at the same time totally focused and totally clear when you talk to him, very self-aware and it is a pleasure to work with him.
‘He has both feet on the ground and I feel he is very grateful to have this chance to train and learn on this level and be part of a strong team. I am happy with him and he needs to be patient and impatient at the same time, which is always the task for the young guys at a big club.’