Romelu Lukaku is finding it hard to get back into the Chelsea starting XI after a four-week injury layoff in November
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has made public his reasons for the reduced minutes Romelu Lukaku is getting since he returned from an injury layoff.
The German tactician says that he has held back on fielding Lukaku consistently because the striker is not 100 per cent recovered yet.
Lukaku was out for about a month after he picked up an ankle injury against Malmö in the UEFA Champions League. Since returning to the squad, Lukaku has played only 77 minutes in the Premier League for Chelsea with Tuchel using his £98m striker sparingly.
The Blues boss told Daily Mail that the 28-year-old striker is still adapting to the English game after playing in the Italian Serie A for the previous seasons.
Tuchel said: “We did not bring him in to play on special occasions. We brought him in for consistency, but, like it or not, there is adaptation still going on. If you play in Italy or England it’s a very, very different game.
The German manager also said the Chelsea squad played with more intensity when the Belgian striker was out injured, stressing that they had to find alternate solutions when they lost their marksman.
“When he was out injured we were playing well. We were scoring. We put the intensity level up. We found other solutions because we had to find solutions,” Tuchel explained.
“He wants to come back. But there’s a fight going on out there every three days and nobody will say, “OK we play now with less intensity because Romelu needs it”. No chance.
“With a high-intensity game every three days it is very hard to come back from injury no matter what your name is. We are breaking our heads about when these players can come back. In which moment? For how long? With only three changes, it makes things very complicated.”
The former PSG boss suggested that Lukaku is still feeling the effects of his ankle injury even if the striker might not admit it.
“And then it was about fitness. In training, he was protecting himself, not with full trust in the ankle. Even if he would never ever admit it, I could see it. You need to be patient.
Though Tuchel confirmed that the former Inter Milan striker is fit enough to start against his former club Everton in tonight’s game. The Chelsea manager also revealed that Ngolo Kante is likely to be included amongst the substitutes for the Everton game.