Christian Pulisic’s most recent injury concern appears to have avoided becoming something worse, as the American star has been cleared to play in Chelsea’s upcoming UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against FC Porto on Wednesday.
Pulisic left Chelsea’s recent 5-2 loss to West Brom at halftime, effectively pulling himself from the match after feeling tightness in his hamstring. The precautionary measure helped Pulisic avoid a more serious injury, and he has returned to training ahead of Chelsea’s first-leg clash with Porto.
“They are fit enough to be in the squad and will be in the squad so this is good news,” Tuchel said of a group of players that included Pulisic. “Christian went out right before the injury could happen. He said at half-time he felt if he continued it would be an injury coming so we had to take him off.”
Pulisic scored his first Chelsea goal of 2021 early in the match against West Brom, which made his departure at halftime all the more surprising. Television replays showed Pulisic wincing as he began a halftime warmup before walking off the field and informing Tuchel that something was wrong.
Though he is available for Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Pulisic appears to be a long-shot to start against Porto, with Tuchel having made it clear that he is going to be careful with how how handles Pulisic in order to try and avoid any more long-term injuries for the injury-hit U.S. Men’s National Team standout.
Pulisic is coming off an impressive international break with the USMNT, playing in a pair of wins against Jamaica and Northern Ireland, including a Man of the Match performance against the latter. He converted a penalty kick for his 15th career national team goal, making him the second-youngest America to reach that mark (second to Landon Donovan).
Chelsea is in the midst of an important stretch, with the Champions League quarterfinals coming ahead of an FA Cup semifinal clash with Manchester City on April 17. The Blues are also locked in a fierce battle for the top four places in the Premier League standings.
Just how prominent a role Pulisic plays down the stretch will be determined by his ability to stay healthy, and his ability to make the most of the minutes he receives as he fights for playing time on a deep Chelsea side.