‘Struggled since he came back’: Tuchel admits the international break has taken its toll on Chelsea player

Thomas Tuchel acknowledged the stresses and strains Christian Pulisic has endured following his return to Chelsea from international duty.

As quoted by the 5th Stand, Tuchel didn’t downplay the fact that it’s been difficult for the American in the aftermath of travelling across the globe with his national team.

Before the interlude for World Cup qualifiers, Pulisic had started eight out of 12 Premier League matches.

He also started and scored against Lille in the Champions League round of 16 second-leg, then notched up nearly 70 minutes away to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

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However, since club football resumed, the 23-year-old’s minutes have been minor.

Fight or flight

Pulisic didn’t feature at all in the 4-1 home defeat to Brentford, due to facing Costa Rica just a few days before.

Thomas Tuchel has only really used him in drips and drabs from the beginning of April onwards, perhaps a backlash of having so many air miles under his belt.

“Especially in the strikers, he had this period where he was on the run, and he had the confidence,” said the Chelsea manager on Pulisic’s form before representing the USA.

“He was heavily involved up front and Timo (Werner) had to wait for many weeks but now things turned around a bit from the Southampton game.

“Puli struggled since he came back from international break where he had three matches and an incredible amount of journeys and time zones to cope with.”

Party time for Pulisic

Due to his apparent suffering, Tuchel saw fit to start Pulisic on the bench against West Ham United last weekend.

But with just under a quarter of an hour remaining, the German coach threw caution to the wind by bringing on the young forward, Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech all at once to try and salvage the result.

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To his credit, the change worked just as planned.

Lukaku made Craig Dawson head for an early shower, having drawn a foul out of the West Ham defender inside the area.

Although Jorginho missed the subsequent spot-kick, Chelsea managed to forge one last chance thanks to the man advantage now available to them.

Marcos Alonso’s cross found the boot of Pulisic, who struck his shot sweetly into the bottom corner.  

“We tried to bring him back with full confidence from the bench and I’m happy with the effort today,” continued Tuchel on his side’s Sunday saviour.

“I’m very happy that he had the chance to have this huge impact together with Hakim and Romelu.”

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.