There appears little prospect of Tammy Abraham winning back a starting role in Chelsea’s attack over the coming weeks, with head coach Thomas Tuchel saying that the England striker is a victim of circumstances.
Abraham may be the club’s top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions but since Tuchel arrived in January he has made just two league starts and been hooked at half-time on both occasions.
The 23-year-old, whose only goal under the German came in the FA Cup win against Barnsley, has also spent time out with an ankle injury. And with the team in impressive form, despite last Saturday’s shock defeat to West Bromwich Albion, Tuchel feels now is not the time to reintegrate Abraham back into the line-up.
“Is it now the moment to do crazy stuff and try things? I’m not so sure,” Tuchel said. “He suffers a bit from the circumstances and maybe it’s not his fault, but it’s also not our fault.
“We just have to accept it a bit a find a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for him. I can understand, if you just look at the data, you will say ok he’s the top scorer but if you look at the data since we are here, it will maybe tell you a different story.”
Tuchel says there is no issue regarding Abraham’s motivation and application on the training pitch but, with the academy graduate’s place in the England squad for the European Championship in two months’ time now placed in doubt, the Chelsea head coach is not going to allow personal ambitions to get in the way of the club’s goals.
“I can’t make my decisions based on the personal goals of my players,” he added. “Kepa also has the personal goal to go with Spain. It’s good they have these goals but it never influences my decisions. I’m the coach for Chelsea and I have to do what is good and best for us.
“Tammy has had a bit of a rough time. He started twice or three times and was twice substituted for tactical reasons at half-time. He could not have the impact he demands from himself and we wish from him.
“Then he was injured and lost a bit the connection and possibility to fight for his place in the squad. The squad has played very well without him, we’ve had a lot of results without him. Now we’re in the decisive part of the season where it’s not so easy to bring players who are injured into the shape.
“We demand a lot of Tammy, he demands a lot of himself. And he is using every minute to convince us that he needs to be on the pitch. From there we go on and every three days there is a match. Hopefully he stays fit and plays a key role in the end of the season.”
Tuchel would not be drawn on whether Chelsea will seek to sign another number nine in the transfer market. Their impressive run of form, with one defeat in 16, has been built around defensive resilience with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz also struggling in front of goal.
The head coach added: “For the next eight weeks, we just have to think how we can improve the scoring and the scoring situation, and nothing else, and then in the summer we will think further on and think together with the club about what solutions are the best solutions for us.
“Is it the best solution to stay with our squad? Is it the best solution to stay in the formation that we have? Can we improve? Can we improve on the training pitch individually and as a group? To create more big chances. These are the questions for June.
“For now, in April, everybody knows that when you read the statistics it’s obvious that the the guys lack this last percentage of confidence when they don’t score. It’s like for a goalkeeper when he needs the clean sheets to be in full confidence and to be in full trust of himself.
“But they [the forwards] work hard for us and they work hard for us defensively. The strikers are part of this successful run that we have and they are part of these wins and they play their part.”