‘Not Using Tammy Abraham Against United Not Punishment’

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*Doubtful also for clash with The Reds tonight

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has insisted that leaving Tammy Abraham out of the squad to face Manchester United was not a “punishment or a signal” for the striker.

Abraham, 23, missed the goalless draw on Sundayand has not scored a Premier League goal since 26 December.

He was also substituted at half-time in his last top-flight outing – the 1-1 draw at Southamptonon 20 February.

“He lacks a little bit of luck, Tammy, not only in games but also in training,” Tuchel said on Wednesday.

“Once the last touch comes back, and he’s fighting for it now, he will stay a player that we will push for. It’s my job to push him to his limits and we will not stop doing this.

“We have to cut it (match-day squad)down to 18 players, so in the end it’s not always a punishment or a signal to a player who is not in the squad.

“And in this case it was exactly like this. It was not a punishment or a signal – it was just a choice from the alternatives.”

Abraham has scored 12 goals this season and is a doubt for the league game against Liverpool at 20:15 GMT tonight.

Fifth-placed Chelsea have 44 points and are a point and a place above the Reds going into the match as both sides try to secure a top-four spot.

West Ham are in fourth on 45 points.

“We still have 12 matches to go. The result on Thursday will not be the end of the race for the top four,” said Tuchel.

“It’s of big importance. I hope we can show up with the same mentality and attitude like the tough challenges we’ve had.”