London (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel revealed Friday he had apologised personally to Conor Gallagher after Chelsea blocked 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 clash at Wembley.
Chelsea rejected Palace’s appeal due to the terms of his Selhurst Park loan and while manager Tuchel said it was the correct decision, he also admitted understanding the 22-year-old’s disappointment.
“I had the chance to speak to Conor, and I could also see his frustration,” said the German.
“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.”
Gallagher has scored eight goals in all competitions in a fine campaign with Patrick Vieira’s Palace and has also made his England debut.
Defending European champions Chelsea exited the Champions League despite a dramatic 3-2 victory at Real Madrid on Tuesday.
The Blues lost out 5-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals to Real, which leaves the FA Cup as Chelsea’s sole chance for further silverware this season after they won the Club World Cup in February.
Tuchel said his players can lift themselves after their midweek Madrid disappointment.
“I think we are all a bit in between,” he said. “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.”
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