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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel apologises to Conor Gallagher

England v Ivory Coast – International Friendly – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he apologised personally to Conor Gallagher for Chelsea blocking the England midfielder playing for Crystal Palace against the Blues in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.

Palace made an official request for Chelsea loanee Gallagher to be given permission to play against his parent club in the last-four cup clash at Wembley.

Chelsea rejected Palace’s request due to the terms of his Selhurst Park loan, and while manager Tuchel insisted that was the correct decision he also admitted understanding the 22-year-old’s frustrations.

Thomas Tuchel file photo

Thomas Tuchel, pictured, insisted Chelsea made the right call denying Conor Gallagher a chance to play against the Blues in the FA Cup semi-final (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Asked if he could appreciate the frustration from Palace boss Patrick Vieira and Gallagher, Tuchel replied: “Yes. I had the chance to speak to Conor, and I could also see his frustration.

“We met some weeks ago, we met after the international break by coincidence, in a restaurant, and we had a chat, and the subject came up. And I apologised!

“Because I know how competitive he is and I know his character, I like him a lot and it was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season.

“We play to win the game, the rules were clear when we made the loan. I can totally understand the disappointment of Conor, but these were the rules when we made the loan and we don’t want to suffer from our rules.”

Gallagher has struck eight goals in all competitions in a fine campaign on loan at Palace that has also seen his elevation to Gareth Southgate’s full England side.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Molineux Stadium

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira, pictured, was frustrated by Conor Gallagher being blocked from featuring against Chelsea (Nick Potts/PA)

The Chelsea academy graduate is likely to push into the Blues’ first-team squad next season, and should be given the chance to state his case for that rise in pre-season.

Gallagher’s absence will prove a blow for Palace this weekend, but Chelsea always had the right to veto the request given their parent-club status.

Romelu Lukaku is back in training after Achilles pain and could yet prove his fitness for Sunday’s clash, though Callum Hudson-Odoi remains out of action with back trouble.

Chelsea exited the Champions League despite a dramatic 3-2 victory at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Blues lost out 5-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals to Real, and that leaves the FA Cup as Chelsea’s sole chance for further silverware this season.

Tuchel’s side have already swiped the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup titles, but will be desperate to end the campaign with an extra trophy.

The Blues boss insisted his players can lift themselves after that midweek Madrid disappointment, in order to produce again at Wembley.

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“I think we are all a bit in between; in part it gives confidence a huge boost, but it’s still a disappointment to go out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage,” said Tuchel.

“It’s just not a big drama and also not in this kind of way. But it’s a disappointment because we feel we could be one of the four teams in the semi-final.

“It’s a bit of a weird feeling because we had a huge task to go to Madrid. We were three goals ahead so in a knockout game in the Bernabeu this was a fantastic performance and stays like this, but still tastes bitter because we are out of Champions League.

“Given both legs though there were too many individual mistakes, punished by quality. It was still a little in between for me, but we bounced back from the two results and performances against Brentford and Real Madrid at home.

“We won both games after that and there’s a big knockout game at Wembley.

“In my opinion it’s a good thing, a huge reward coming with it. It’s straight away another knockout match.”

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