Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has revealed he apologised to loanee Conor Gallagher after denying Crystal Palace's request to play the midfielder against his parent club in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Gallagher has enjoyed a breakout season in the Premier League on loan at Selhurst Park and had hoped to line up against his full-time employers when Palace face the Blues in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley on Sunday.
However, an official request from the Eagles' to field the 22-year-old has been rejected, with Chelsea unwilling to let their decision to send the player out on loan come back to bite them.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of the cup clash, Tuchel revealed he had apologised to Gallagher over the decision to not let him play after a chance meeting at a restaurant.
“I had the chance to speak to Conor, I could also see his frustration," Tuchel said.
"We met some weeks ago, after the national break by coincidence. We ran into each other in a restaurant and we had a chat. The subject came up… I apologised because I know how competitive he is and I like him a lot, I know his character very well and was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season."
The German continued: "This is the way it is. We play to win the game and the rules were clear when we made the loan.
"I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and the disappointment of Conor but these are the rules when we did the loan and we don’t want to suffer from our rules.”
The German was also asked about the progress of Marc Guehi, who Chelsea sold to Palace last summer, and the decision to part with certain young players.
"It is a decision we took together and are happy about these decisions," he said. "You cannot go back and reflect at this point.
"When we took the decisions it was the right thing to do given the circumstances. For example, individual decisions. For Tino Livramento, we had a plan and we wanted, preferred a loan. He saw his future to go and the situation was then better to agree to the sale.
"For Marc Guehi, it is a fantastic development. It is impossible now to say if we kept him he would have been better, been worse or been the same.
"Maybe he needed that (to leave). Maybe he needed the change of environment, a different club, a different role, more minutes to develop your full potential. It just tells you over and over again that if you trust younger players and have a role for them, they can on a very regular level match expectations and even over perform.
"It’s nice to see so many Chelsea players out there in every league. We are well aware for it. It is nice to play against them and see them develop.”
Chelsea and Palace will go head to head for a place in the FA Cup final at 4.30pm on Sunday.