Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has outlined his plans for winger Christian Pulisic after he was dropped to the substitutes bench against FC Porto on Wednesday evening.
The USA international, who officially joined the Blues from Borussia Dortmund in January 2019, was named amongst the substitutes against the Portuguese side after suffering a hamstring injury in last weekend’s shock 5-2 home reverse to West Bromwich Albion.
Pulisic was forced off at half-time to manage the problem, but had found himself on the scoresheet prior to suffering his latest injury setback.
Injury woes have been a continuous trend for the former Dortmund star this season, limiting him to just 30 appearances in all competitions.
But despite suffering a fresh hamstring blow against the Baggies, Pulisic was in a strong enough condition to climb off the bench and play the remaining 25 minutes of the contest in midweek, which saw the Blues run out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell.
Now, ahead of the Blues’ clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tomorrow teatime, Tuchel has issued an update on the state of Pulisic’s fitness, confirming that the club needs to “take care” of him and not overload him and running the risk of him getting injured once again.
“His fitness is always important because he has a huge impact with sprint and intensity at the highest level,” Tuchel said during his pre-match press conference on Friday lunchtime. “It’s one of his biggest strengths but he needs to feel confident and calm neatly.
“Then he can be a huge weapon for us. He scored against West Brom but the overall game and his need to go off at half time clouded the goal and impact he had but now against he was very close to scoring.
“He can have a huge impact from the bench. We have to take care of him, hopefully he won’t be re-injured. I feel him getting stronger and more confident.
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“He can be a decisive factor with his speed, ability to dribble and arrive in the box from dangerous situations.
“Hopefully he can have that impact. It’s our job to push him there.”
In what has been a stop-start season for the USA international, he has netted three goals in all competitions, as well as claiming two assists. His biggest frustration, however, is likely to be a lack of Premier League starts this term. To date, he has started just 12 league games this season, with only two of those coming under Tuchel.