Tuchel says Pulisic part of his plans despite lack of game time

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FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Group E - Sevilla v Chelsea

(Reuters) - Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic has struggled for playing time under new manager Thomas Tuchel but the German said on Friday the 22-year-old is part of his plans at the Premier League club.

Pulisic has played 134 minutes and is yet to start a league game under Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard in late January and has led the London club on an unbeaten run of 11 games.

"He is in my plans, he is an important player," Tuchel said before Saturday's trip to Leeds United.

"I hope he stays patient, all of my players are competitors and want to play every single minute and this is what they show every day, the hunger and desire and this is what Christian shows.

"In the beginning he was a little unlucky because we knew how much of an impact he could have off the bench and we used this power and strength from him."

Tuchel praised Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa for leading the Yorkshire club into the English top flight after a 16-year absence and building a strong squad, but said he will not attempt to outdo the Argentine's tactics at Elland Road.

"There are big teams out there with big history, strong players, strong history. Bielsa is one of the most fascinating managers out there and a big personality," Tuchel said.

"Like with any game, I don't put the pressure on myself. I don't need to out-tactic Marcelo Bielsa. We will focus on us, how to attack and how to defend."

Defender Thiago Silva will miss Saturday's game following an injury and striker Tammy Abraham has been ruled out due to ankle pain.

Chelsea are fourth with 50 points after 28 games, 15 points above 11th-placed Leeds, who have played a game fewer.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)