Thomas Tuchel has confessed that he benched striker Romelu Lukaku because he felt the Belgian's recent poor form has been down to fatigue.
Lukaku has been a permanent starter for Chelsea when fit, despite not always performing well, but his infamous seven-touch performance against Crystal Palace at the weekend has seen the club's record signing named on the bench for Tuesday's Champions League last 16 first leg against Lille.
"I felt him a little bit tired. He looked a little exhausted and you have to consider that he’s played a lot," Tuchel said of his decision. "We’ve had extra time [in the Club World Cup final], a lot of travelling recently and it wasn’t easy for him against Palace, this wasn’t his best performance.
"So maybe it will be a little bit easier for him to come on from the bench tonight and turn things around if we need him."
Lukaku had started Chelsea's last ten games in all competitions but the honour has been given to Kai Havertz for this one, with the German making his 50th start for the Blues since his 2020 arrival.
Christian Pulisic starts alongside the in-form Hakim Ziyech, with Timo Werner joining Lukaku on the bench.