Thomas Tuchel says he felt the time was right to give Ruben Loftus-Cheek a chance in the Chelsea side.
The midfielder’s first-team prospects at Stamford Bridge looked bleak prior to a surprise recall.
He impressed after coming on as a substitute in the recent defeats by Manchester City and Juventus and was given a starting place against Southampton.
Loftus-Cheek vindicated Tuchel’s decision with an impressive display as the Blues won 3-1 courtesy of late goals from Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell.
Ross Barkley has also been a surprise recent inclusion – he came on as a late substitute.
Tuchel explained that he believed Loftus-Cheek and Barkley would feel less pressure if called upon, given how unlikely their involvement would have previously seemed.
Back-to-back losses was also a reason the Blues boss opted to make a change.
And boss Tuchel felt that Loftus-Cheek’s marauding style would be useful against Southampton’s high-pressing approach.
“I feel that at the moment Ruben and Ross have no pressure because they are happy to have these chances,” Tuchel said
Maybe they could not have imagined six weeks ago being in a position where they are actually getting important minutes.
“They can help us because they have this totally positive spirit and they don’t feel the pressure.
“We lost the last two games and we felt that something was lacking, so we decided to put Ruben because we were aware of the high pressing in midfield and still we wanted to go through midfield and to have Ruben and Kovacic who can not only pass but also drive with the ball to escape the pressing.”
While Loftus-Cheek and Barkley have been brought in from the cold, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech were left out following a number of disappointing performances.
Tuchel admitted: “We always do our best to bring the players in the best shape but at some point after a lot of chances we have to admit that Kai and Hakim are not in their very best shape.
“It’s maybe not even their fault – it’s just like this at the moment. They struggle at the moment to be decisive.
“We had a period after pre-season when they were very decisive for us. They lost a bit of maybe belief or confidence.
Nobody is angry at them and nobody has major concerns. But we have to pay attention to form.
“We knew about the high pressing and intensity of Southampton and on the other hand some players maybe don’t feel the pressure so much.”
Werner also said he was happy and relieved to see Werner, who had a goal disallowed, eventually get on the scoresheet.