‘Not fit enough for our game’

THOMAS TUCHEL says he left Romelu Lukaku on the bench for Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final victory due to a lack of FITNESS.

The £97.5million striker missed out on the starting XI for Sunday’s 3-2 Wembley win against Crystal Palace after recovering from an Achilles injury.

Romelu Lukaku was left out of Chelsea’s XI to face Crystal Palace due to a lack of fitnessCredit: Getty

And Tuchel revealed before kick-off that Lukaku’s low fitness levels meant he would not be able to match Chelsea’s tactical intensity.

The German said: “He is not fit enough for the intensity of our game in an FA Cup semi-final.

“It’s not easy to come into a game such as this with so much riding on it after a spell out with injury.

“It’s just a case of him not having as much minutes recently as the other players, his match fitness is not quite there otherwise there’s a big chance that he would have started today.”

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Lukaku, 28, rejoined Chelsea from Inter Milan last summer after netting 47 Serie A goals in just two years.

However, he has only managed to hit the target FIVE times in the Premier League this term.

And Lukaku is now being tipped for a Stamford Bridge exit at the end of the season.

Fans still haven’t forgiven the forward for his controversial Sky Italia interview in December.

But Tuchel yesterday hinted Lukaku may yet have a Chelsea future if he follows the example of another attacking flop, Timo Werner.

Tuchel said: “He [Lukaku] 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.

“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.”

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Goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount booked Chelsea’s spot in next month’s final against Liverpool.

Lukaku got off the bench for the final 10 minutes but failed to impress once again, hitting a point-blank shot against the post after being set up by Werner.

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