LONDON (AP) — Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic has yet to start an English Premier League match under Thomas Tuchel, but the manager stressed on Friday that the American remains “in my plans.”
Tuchel downplayed speculation that the 22-year-old Pulisic might seek to leave Stamford Bridge after the season in search of more playing time.
“This is too far ahead. We have so many games and he is in my plans and he’s an important player, and he has the potential to be decisive for us from the bench and as a (starter),” the German manager said.
“Is it necessary that he can prove it? Yes, so this is my job, and his job is to be ready — to be ready like everybody else. This is what you sign up for in a club like Chelsea. There’s no difference between Christian and anybody else.”
The speedy winger has struggled with injuries in his two seasons at Chelsea but has shown that when healthy he’s a scoring threat. He had 11 goals in all competitions last season.
Critics would be hard-pressed to find fault with Tuchel so far. The Blues are on an 11-game unbeaten run since he took over from the fired Frank Lampard in late January.
Chelsea is up to fourth place and visits Leeds on Saturday.
Pulisic’s lone Premier League goal this season came on Dec. 5 against Leeds in a 3-1 victory. He’s netted once in the Champions League, also.
Pulisic has missed one game to injury and another for family reasons under Tuchel and his only recent start came on Feb. 11 in an FA Cup match against Barnsley.
“When you sign and play for Chelsea, it is part of the job description as a player to be impatient and patient at the same time,” Tuchel said. “Impatient because all of my players are competitors, all of them want to play every single minute, and this is what they all show every day, the hunger and the desire, and this is what Christian shows.”
But if not selected, he added, “you have to also be patient, to not lose confidence, and to keep on going and be ready anytime.”
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