Tuchel on Abraham’s battle for minutes, Pulisic getting stronger and how loan players will get their chance

In the build-up to tomorrow's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace, Thomas Tuchel has been discussing the form and fitness of two players, as well as his plans to use those out on loan next season...

With no fresh injury concerns, the Blues boss has been able to work with a full complement of players on the training pitches at Cobham this week, in between the two-day trip to Seville for the Champions League quarter-final. However, he has admitted it is proving difficult to trim down his options when selecting his matchday squad, and even tougher to limit the playing minutes of those who deserve more.

Tammy Abraham has shaken off a troublesome ankle injury to return to availability in recent weeks, although he hasn’t featured since starting our 1-1 draw at Southampton in mid-February.

Tuchel has revealed the striker has trained well this week and says the challenge has been laid out for our top scorer to force his way back into the Blues side.

‘Tammy has had a rough time recently but he is working hard,’ Tuchel revealed at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon. 'He started two or three times and was substituted for tactical reasons, then he got injured and lost a bit of the connection that he had so now he has to play for his place in the squad.

‘Suddenly we are in the decisive part of the season where it’s not so easy to bring injured players into the squad when they return. We have a full squad now, with 22 players on the training pitch every day and it’s difficult to pick only 18 players for each Premier League match.

‘We have only three changes in each game and it’s a big handicap because it’s very difficult in the offensive positions to make an impact in a small amount of minutes but it is possible and it’s up to Tammy to do everything possible.’

One player who has returned from injury to have an impact in recent games is Christian Pulisic, the forward having opened the scoring last weekend in the Premier League and then crashed an effort off the crossbar after coming off the bench in midweek against Porto.

Tuchel feels the American is making sure and steady progress, adding that his physical health is so important given the explosive nature of his game.

‘Fitness is always important for Christian because he has this huge physical impact in the amount of sprints and intensity that he can give to the team on the highest level,’ continued the boss. ‘This is one of his biggest strengths, and the other thing is he needs to feel confident and calm mentally, and then he can be a huge weapon for us.

‘He scored in the last game against West Brom but unfortunately the overall game and his need to go off the pitch at half-time clouded the goal and the impact he could have had with that goal.

'Then again he was very close to scoring and had a huge impact from the bench [against Porto] so we have to take care about him, that he hopefully will not be reinjured, because I feel him stronger and stronger, and more and more self-confident.

‘He could be a decisive factor in the next game with his speed, his ability to dribble and his ability to arrive in the box in dangerous situations from balls from the sides and crosses. He normally has the feeling to arrive and to score so hopefully he can have that impact. It’s our job to push him there and to calm his mind that he feels the trust and he feels confident.’

Despite the options available to Tuchel this weekend, Michy Batshuayi will not be able to take to the field at Selhurst Park for either Chelsea or Crystal Palace due to Premier League rules governing his loan move across the capital.

The Belgian is one of many players out on loan from Stamford Bridge and Tuchel has admitted he hasn’t had the time to keep tabs on all of them, though he indicated that the summer pre-season could be used to assess the group more closely.

‘We cannot have a squad of 50 players next season and it’s not so easy because we have a lot of players on loan with a lot of quality and who have a big influence at the clubs where they play,’ he added.

‘We are not so long at the club so we’re still getting to know our 22 players here better but of course we know everybody and have a general overview. On loan, you always have the trouble in translating the performance into your league if they go abroad, or into your club if they play for another club like Crystal Palace. 

'Would it be the same impact here? Sometimes you see performances because a player plays very regularly and has his 90 minutes all the time but can he give the same impact if he’s coming from the bench? This translation can be very difficult to make.

‘I would always prefer to see everybody and to meet everybody personally in a pre-season so let’s see how this works out. At the same time, I respect the policy of the club. I can totally understand that the club has the last word on what we do and what can happen with the players.

‘I’m not totally aware of every contractual situation but I’m very relaxed about it. We know we have strong players out there and if the market gets complicated in the summer, we have a big pool of players to pick from.’

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