Thomas Tuchel has challenged Tammy Abraham to make it “impossible” to leave him out, admitting it could be tough for England forward to break back into the Chelsea side this season.
Abraham has only just shaken off a niggling ankle problem suffered in the 2-0 Premier League win over Newcastle on February 15.
Chelsea has lost just once in Tuchel’s 16 matches in charge, with Abraham missing the bulk of those games.
They have one foot in the Champions League semi-finals after beating Porto 2-0 away in the first leg of their last-eight tie this week and are fifth in the Premier League, one point behind fourth-placed West Ham.
Academy graduate Abraham remains Chelsea’s top scorer in all competitions this term with 12 goals, though Mason Mount has topped the charts under new manager Tuchel.
“Tammy had a bit of a rough time because twice he was substituted at half-time for tactical changes,” said Tuchel.
“So he could not have the impact that he demands from himself, we wish from him and he can clearly give for us.
“Then he got injured and the squad played very well without him. Now suddenly we enter the decisive part of the season where it’s not so easy to bring players who were injured into the shape or to let them play.”
“But it’s on Tammy to do everything to make it impossible to leave him out,” he added. “It’s very, very hard to select the 18 players for Premier League matches.”
Chelsea faces Crystal Palace in Saturday’s Premier League clash at Selhurst Park but Abraham could find himself surplus to requirements again despite a lack of goals from the forwards.
A clutch of Premier League clubs is understood to be keen on a move for Abraham, with West Ham among the suitors.
Tuchel said he could not help the 23-year-old advance his claims for an England place ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament but believes Abraham can have a big impact on the end of Chelsea’s season.
“In the offensive positions it’s always possible to have a huge impact in only some minutes,” he said.
“And nothing has changed. We demand a lot of Tammy and he demands a lot of himself, and he is using every minute to convince us he needs to be on the pitch. And so we go on.
“Hopefully he stays fit and will play a key role at the end of the season.”