THOMAS TUCHEL has told Romelu Lukaku he must emulate Timo Werner to get back in the Chelsea side.
Lukaku — last summer’s £97million marquee signing — has been arguably the Premier League’s biggest disappointment of the season.
But the Belgian powerhouse is back from an Achilles injury just in time to boost the Blues in their final quest for a trophy.
Lukaku — already a member of the Premier League’s elite 100-goal club when he joined — knows he is unlikely to start against Crystal Palace at Wembley today.
And he is also now aware that Werner, for so long an expensive flop himself, has moved ahead of him in the striking pecking order.
Germany forward Werner has swallowed his own frustration at being regularly benched to knuckle down and start finding the net.
Manager Tuchel gave the former Leipzig man the nod against Southampton and Real Madrid — and was rewarded with three goals.
And Tuchel made it clear that Lukaku needs a similar impact once his turn comes again.
The forward was a sub in the first leg of the Champions League loss to Real Madrid and recalling his weak header, he said: “He had a huge chance against Real Madrid and things can go so fast.
“Nobody knows what this goal would have done for us if he had taken his chance with the late header.
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“It is exactly what he needs to do — wait, be patient, work hard and put the team first, be ready to help the team, because as a striker you can help within seconds.”
Lukaku began his second spell at Stamford Bridge with four goals in as many games but has failed to find the net in the Premier League since last year.
Injury had robbed him of almost the whole of November but it was a controversial interview with Sky Italia in December that alerted Blues fans to the fact that all was not well with their superstar.
Lukaku insisted he was “not happy”, criticised Tuchel’s tactics and expressed a desire to return to Inter Milan — the club who sold him to Chelsea.
Tuchel dropped him immediately. Werner had also been vocal in his displeasure at being a Stamford Bridge benchwarmer, claiming Germany manager Hansi Flick’s style of play suited him more than that of Tuchel.
The manager remained unmoved and made it clear the only way Werner would play was if he worked hard in training and took his chance when it came.
Werner scored twice in the 6-0 demolition of Southampton and the third goal in the decider at Real Madrid that was almost enough to keep the holders in the Champions League.
Finally, that was sufficient for his manager to tell the £45million former flop that at long last he was viewed as a difficult man to leave out.
Tuchel said: “I’m impressed, he was very, very good in the last two games.
“These were two games when he was much better than in any other game and he showed what he is capable of.
“In the end the players take care that you don’t leave them out — they do it in training or in games and, of course, in games it’s the opportunity for everybody.
“Especially for strikers, things can be turned around in minutes, in moments.
“Whole careers can be upside-down and in any direction but always as a striker you can have a chance to put things into your favour, as a substitute or if you have the chance to perform from the beginning.
“He did in the last two games and that’s what we want from him.
“It’s what he needs to show and then he takes care that he plays.”
Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi are Chelsea’s only injury absentees as they aim to reach a third successive FA Cup final.