LONDON (AP) – Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic believes he is over the injury problems that blighted the early part of his season and led to the club devising a tailored training plan for the U.S. international.
Pulisic struggled with persistent hamstring injuries after hobbling off with the problem during the FA Cup final against Arsenal in August last year.
Pulisic was largely restricted to substitute appearances following the hiring of Thomas Tuchel as manager in January, but has established himself as a regular in recent weeks and is beginning to trust his body.
“I feel very confident in my body and fitness level at the moment,” Pulisic said Monday, speaking ahead of Chelsea’s game against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday.
“I have played a string of games. I had some time out in the past year and a bit. It is really just about taking care of my body and putting myself in the best position to be available for every game. I feel good about that right now.”
Pulisic said playing for the United States in friendly matches against Jamaica and Northern Ireland in March helped him to get the consistency that he has taken into games with Chelsea.
He scored against Northern Ireland in a 2-1 win for the Americans on March 28, and netted three goals in the following two Premier League games after international duty.
“I think it did help to go away and get some games in with the national team,” Pulisic said. “I definitely always enjoy that and, coming back, I felt very confident and I still feel that way.
“It is just about keeping up this form and help my team to win these big games.”
Pulisic is expected to start in the first leg of the semifinals against a Madrid team that could include Eden Hazard, a former Chelsea player who left Stamford Bridge in the offseason of 2019 – when Pulisic arrived from Borussia Dortmund.
Pulisic is playing down any comparisons with Hazard, despite their similar playing styles.
“He was an incredible player at this football club, of course. I definitely looked up to him,” Pulisic said of Hazard. “I am not comparing myself to him in any way or trying to be like him. I am my own player, doing my best for this club.
“Obviously he was a massive player for this club and obviously it is an honor to hear comparisons like that, but I still have a ways to go.”