Thomas Tuchel says Tammy Abraham needs to focus on regaining a place in the Chelsea team and not be swayed by speculation about his future.
Blues boss Tuchel’s decision not to include Abraham in the squad for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City inevitably fuelled reports the striker could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge.
Asked at a press conference on Monday if Abraham ought to be concerned, Tuchel said: “I think everybody is concerned who is not in the squad.”
Abraham has been troubled by ankle problems in recent weeks but has not featured even when he has been available.
And Tuchel not even giving him a place among Chelsea’s nine substitutes at Wembley raised eyebrows.
“It’s never an easy decision for me to take,” Tuchel added.
“Tammy has had this decision a few times against him, which is never personal. This is life at Chelsea sometimes as a player.
“I hope that he does not get lost in too many thoughts. He knows that he is not to be too concerned and enter into too many thoughts about his situation.
“What he can do is stay focused, stay with belief. The situation for a striker can change in minutes.
“I hope he is not concerned about his future. I hope the only thing he cares about is his training.
“That’s the only way to escape a situation that is clearly not satisfying for him but it’s my responsibility to take these choices and sometimes they are hard choices.”
Abraham, 23, has made just five appearances since Tuchel took over following the sacking of Frank Lampard in January and his only goal came in an FA Cup tie against Barnsley.
He has slipped below not just Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud in the pecking order but also Kai Havertz, who has recently been deployed as a centre-forward.
Tuchel said: “I have a lot of sympathy for him and I can absolutely understand that he is worried, that he is sad, that he is maybe angry with me when I make these decisions.
“But I appreciate the attitude he arrives with nevertheless. He never gets affected by it and that’s the main point to be a top professional
“It’s also what we demand. If you sign up for Chelsea you sign up for tough competition.
“In Tammy’s dreams we can be sure he wants to be the number nine. He wants to be the guy who starts for us every game.
“So it’s a tough, tough situation personally for him in a good moment for the team. So you have to put your ego aside and this is what we demand of him.
“But he gets a lot of credit from me and his team-mates because he is not letting anybody down. He is pushing.”