Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has insisted that Saul Niguez does not need to worry, despite his continued lack of game time.
The Spanish midfielder, on loan from Atletico Madrid, made his debut against Aston Villa last month. However, Tuchel brought him off at half time after some “big mistakes”.
Following his move from La Liga, he struggled to adapt straight away to the intensity of the Premier League.
What’s more, he has not played a single minute since then. Chelsea do have an array of midfielders to choose from and Tuchel has shown willingness to use his options.
In Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southampton, Ruben Loftus-Cheek – who could have left in the summer – played alongside Mateo Kovacic. Ross Barkley is another who was earmarked for an exit, but he came into the game.
But Saul did not get an introduction, leaving Tuchel to admit that he has to work hard and adapt to get his chance.
The manager told Goal: “He does not need to worry. Just work hard and adapt and the chances will come. We have only 11 to give a chance. I would like to see it in a positive way.
“If you turn it around of course you have eight players who we didn’t trust today from the beginning. This is a reality. I cannot hide from this reality.
“I will always do my choices in the best belief for the team and best belief in this moment and for these type of games.
“There will always be tactical choices and choices of current form and of connections on the field. Particularly about Saul, he was very, very close to start today.”
However, Tuchel admitted that he felt hesitant to throw the 26-year-old into the action at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel decided against Saul for Chelsea
“In the end I decided against him because I thought to put him in another high pressing match, an opponent pressing so high in the centre of the pitch, would it be fair to say ‘okay, now prove it and let’s see if your adaption has gone further’ and I hesitated a little bit,” he added.
“I have to take the selection and take the responsibility for the selection and eight players today did not like it. It is also life at Chelsea and we have to keep on going and keep everyone positive.
“The guys have to work for their form because form is most important – form and confidence and a positive attitude. He has everything.”
Goals from Trevoh Chalobah, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell helped Chelsea rise to the top of the Premier League. They stayed there heading into the international break, too.
Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool all dropped points.