Thomas Tuchel has personally apologised to Conor Gallagher after Chelsea blocked the midfielder from playing against them in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.
Gallagher has starred on loan at Crystal Palace this season, helping them into the final four of the cup and earning a day at Wembley.
Palace made an official request to Chelsea for Gallagher to play, but the Blues rejected it due to the terms of his loan.
While manager Tuchel insisted that was the correct decision, he also admitted understanding the 22-year-old’s frustrations.
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.
The Chelsea academy graduate is likely to push into the Blues’ first-team squad next season, and will likely be given the chance to state his case for that rise in pre-season.
Chelsea will be hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of a midweek Champions League exit to Real Madrid.
The FA Cup represents their last chance of silverware this season and will be hoping to go one better than in the 2020/21 campaign, where they lost in the final to Leicester.
“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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