Thomas Tuchel says Antonio Rudiger needed a rest after leaving the German defender out of Chelsea’s 2-0 home win over Everton at Stamford Bridge.
Rudiger has impressed since regaining a regular place under his fellow countryman.
But, like Mason Mount and N’Golo Kante, the 28-year-old was left out of the starting line-up against the Toffees.
Tuchel said playing in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup meant he had to keep his players fresh and have trust in a squad big enough to cope with the demanding schedule
But he insisted that “whoever you see on the pitch deserves to be on the pitch”.
“After two intense away games it is the moment to change,” Tuchel added.
“Sometimes it is a tactical decision. For Kurt Zouma it was well, well deserved and Toni needed, in my personal opinion, a little break because he played at such an intense, high concentration level that was outstanding.
“There is a reason for every change. You cannot just say ‘I trust the guys’. You have to let them play. We did not lose quality. Everyone can play on a high level.”
The victory means Chelsea have still not lost in 11 matches under Tuchel, with the clean sheet their fifth successive home shutout.