Thomas Tuchel admits he was forced to play star during defeat to West Ham

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he was forced to call upon Romelu Lukaku after injuries struck again against West Ham United.

The Belgium international has been recovering from an ankle injury suffered in October, used as a second-half substitute in Chelsea’s last two games against Manchester United and the win over Watford in midweek.

Tuchel has been wary of overloading his players heading into the busy festive period with Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic among those already sidelined, with Kai Havertz and Marcos Alonso also coming off with knocks in the 3-2 defeat to the Hammers.

And the German revealed post-match he was very reluctant to call upon Lukaku after his recent layoff, insisting the decision to bring him on was not a tactical one.

Tuchel told beIN SPORTS: ‘No, we did not try to find another dimension.

‘We had to [make the] change because we have another injured player [Kai Havertz].’

Tuchel added: ‘He cannot start the match now because he is not match ready.

When asked what he thought of the striker’s performance, the Chelsea boss said: ‘It’s not about talking about individual players and not about Romelu now.’

Lukaku has scored four times in his 14 appearances since returning to Stamford Bridge, with his last goal coming against Zenit St Petersburg in September.