Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says Christian Pulisic has been “unlucky” with a lack of game-time lately but needs to be patient.
Pulisic was a key figure for the Blues last season but has been reduced to a bit-part role under Tuchel, coming off the bench in their past four matches.
The United States international was a 90th minute substitute for Timo Werner in Monday’s 2-0 win over Everton.
Tuchel, who worked with Pulisic during his time at Borussia Dortmund, clarified there was no issue between the pair and pointed at competition for spots.
“Yes, I can say nothing else but good things about him,” Tuchel said. “Maybe his biggest problem is that I know him from Dortmund and I think he started only in the cup games.
“It is my responsibility and it is a bit unfair but I know what impact he can have in the last 20 or 30 minutes. He was a bit unlucky in the last few games.
“It isn’t a lack of trust or quality, it is just that he will have to be patient.
“I have another guy who I would love to mention in Emerson who suffers from bad decisions by me. He does not play but he is an amazing guy who trains at the highest level and he never lets the team down with his mentality.
“It was a super hard decision today to have him out of the squad, the same with Tammy (Abraham). It is like this, we have a strong group. The guys have to keep on fighting. There’s no other way.”
Chelsea’s busy schedule will continue with Leeds United in the Premier League on Saturday, before their Champions League last-16 second leg with Atletico Madrid in midweek and an FA Cup quarter-final with Sheffield United.
As a result, Tuchel said he would continue to rotate his squad, potentially offering Pulisic more significant minutes.
“If you play in competitions like the Premier League, Champions League and the cup there is no way you have 11 players in your head,” the German said.
“First of all, whoever you see on the pitch deserves to be on the pitch and we need to analyse what we give in there. We cannot just keep players on the pitch to keep them going.
“Sometimes it is like this, but after two intense games and away games with a lot of travelling and we missed a lot of sleep between Atletico, Man U and Liverpool, it was the moment to change.
“There is a reason for every change and you cannot just say I trust you guys. If you trust them you have to let them play.”
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