Thomas Tuchel insisted Billy Gilmour’s performance was “absolutely OK” after taking the youngster off at half-time against Arsenal.
Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, where youngster Gilmour started in midfield for them in the absence of the rested N’Golo Kante and injured Mateo Kovacic.
Blues boss Tuchel made a change at the interval, replacing Gilmour with Callum Hudson-Odoi and deploying Mason Mount in a deeper role.
Tuchel explained: “Arsenal defended so deep and we wanted to have Mason there to have an offensive player.
“It was not because Billy was bad that we had a tactical change and tried to put more offensive power.”
Gilmour’s withdrawal is bound to fuel speculation that he could play elsewhere next season as his first-team prospects at Chelsea look limited.
“Billy’s situation; we will talk after the season. Right now he’s here. He’s doing his job,” Tuchel said.
“It’s clear that it’s very hard for him because we lacked N’Golo and Mateo Kovacic in midfield.
“This is huge for us and it’s not fair to put it all on his shoulders. He was by far not the problem.”