Thomas Tuchel says he will give Chelsea’s academy graduates “every chance” to earn a place in the first team, but warns he will not hand out “gifts” to any players.
Tuchel’s predecessor Frank Lampard placed an emphasis on giving chances to players produced by Chelsea, who have one of the strongest academies in Europe.
The likes of Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham all became key members of the first-team squad under Lampard, but Tuchel caused unease among some Blues supporters when he named a number of older players in the XI for his first game against Wolves last week.
Tuchel explained he was keen to rely on experience after having just one training session with his new squad, and went on to name academy graduates Mount, Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi in the team for his second game – and first win – against Burnley on Sunday.
Tuchel says he will continue to lean on Chelsea’s young players for upcoming fixtures, including Thursday’s trip to Tottenham, explaining: “It’s a crucial point and I am absolutely pleased about the quality of the academy.
“The guys we have here are a pleasure to work with, because first of all they have the quality, but also they have the physical ability to play in the Premier League.
“I know how hard it is to play for Chelsea and compete for titles, but this is the challenge and I’m very pleased that all the Chelsea boys in the squad now take this challenge because it does something to your character and approach.
“It’s very important that we rely on them and trust them and don’t confuse them being inexperienced with a lack of quality. They will be given every chance to leave their footprints here.
“But in the end we have to accept it’s about quality and delivering in the moment. There are no gifts for nobody.”
Chelsea’s visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be Tuchel’s first experience of a London derby, as well as his first career meeting with Jose Mourinho.
But he may have to do without Kurt Zouma and Kai Havertz, describing the pair as questionable after they suffered knocks in training on Wednesday.
Tuchel: I back James 1,000 per cent
Tuchel was particularly keen to offer his support to academy graduate Reece James after the 21-year-old revealed racist abuse he has received on social media.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has written to the squad pledging his support in the fight against discrimination, and now Tuchel has also provided his backing.
Asked about the abuse James received, Tuchel said: “The team spoke about it and the club spoke with the team about it.
“I have a close relationship with Reece and there was nothing to worry about because he got a lot of support and he has for sure all my support. You can be totally assured that I am 1,000 per cent at his side.
“But I had a good feeling it was a good distraction for him to be out on the pitch and to talk about football and to see the support of the club and his team-mates.”