Tuchel has sympathy for Gallagher missing out on facing Chelsea in cup
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Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has warned Romelu Lukaku that he may only have six weeks to save his Blues career after struggling to make an impact in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Crystal Palace. Goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount saw Chelsea register a hard-fought win over the Eagles to book their place in the final of the tournament for the third successive year.
Lukaku was introduced as a late substitute against Palace but failed to stamp his authority on proceedings and missed a gilt-edged chance to score Chelsea’s third goal of the match when he struck the post from close range as the clock ticked down. Cole went on to insist that Lukaku’s time at Stamford Bridge may be running out unless he is able to prove his worth to the Blues between now and the end of the season.
“He’s got six weeks to save his Chelsea career, if he wants it,” Cole told ITV Sport after the final whistle. “You look at [Timo] Werner, he doesn’t give up when he doesn’t score. With Lukaku, he wants to be that focal point.
“He missed the chance and when it’s not going for you, it’s not going for you. He just gets it all wrong. He’ll be gutted cause he’s better than that.”
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Lukaku has been forced to play a supporting role at Chelsea in recent weeks, with Kai Havertz having firmly established himself as Thomas Tuchel’s preferred choice to lead the line for the Blues in attack. The former only registered seven touches against Palace and will be desperate to rescue his form as a matter of urgency in order to boost his chances of playing on a regular basis next season.
Chelsea paid a club-record fee of £97.5million to bring Lukaku back to the club last summer but the move has failed to have the desired impact over the course of the current campaign. Tuchel admitted after Sunday’s win over Palace that Lukaku is not fit enough to start games for the Blues at present but insisted that he can turn things around if he keeps working hard to improve over the coming weeks.
“He’s not fit enough to play 90 minutes, not fit enough for the intensity of our game, it’s as easy as that,” said Tuchel. “He had an injury, he missed minutes, so his match fitness isn’t there, otherwise there’s a big chance he’d be playing today.
“For sure [Lukaku can revive his Chelsea career]. He had a huge chance against Real Madrid and things can go so fast, nobody knows what this goal would have done for us if he had taken his chance with the late header in the first leg.
“It is exactly what he needs to do. Wait, be patient, work hard and put the team first, be ready to help the team, because as a striker you can help within seconds. Especially for strikers, things can be turned around in minutes, in moments.”
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