Thomas Tuchel has told Tammy Abraham that Chelsea “demand” he works hard to regain his place after recently being overlooked.
Boss Tuchel left Abraham out of the squad for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, prompting speculation that he could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge.
West Ham and Leicester have been linked with the England international striker, who not scored a Premier League goal since Tuchel took over in January.
But Tuchel wants Abraham to focus on working hard and not be affected by speculation about his future.
Asked at a press conference on Monday if Abraham ought to be concerned, Tuchel said: “I think everybody is concerned who is not in the squad.”
The German added: “It’s never an easy decision for me to take.
“Tammy has had this decision a few times against him, which is never personal. This is life at Chelsea sometimes as a player.
“I hope that he does not get lost in too many thoughts. He knows that he is not to be too concerned and enter into too many thoughts about his situation.
“What he can do is stay focused, stay with belief. The situation for a striker can change in minutes.
“I hope he is not concerned about his future. I hope the only thing he cares about is his training.
“That’s the only way to escape a situation that is clearly not satisfying for him but it’s my responsibility to take these choices and sometimes they are hard choices.”
Abraham has slipped below Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner in the pecking order – and his prospects look even bleaker now Tuchel is selecting Kai Havertz as a centre-forward.
But Tuchel insists tough competition for places is part and parcel of being at a club like Chelsea.
Tuchel said: “I have a lot of sympathy for him and I can absolutely understand that he is worried, that he is sad, that he is maybe angry with me when I make these decisions.
“But I appreciate the attitude he arrives with nevertheless. He never gets affected by it and that’s the main point to be a top professional
“It’s also what we demand. If you sign up for Chelsea you sign up for tough competition.
“In Tammy’s dreams we can be sure he wants to be the number nine. He wants to be the guy who starts for us every game.
“So it’s a tough, tough situation personally for him in a good moment for the team. So you have to put your ego aside and this is what we demand of him.
“But he gets a lot of credit from me and his team-mates because he is not letting anybody down. He is pushing.”