Soccer-'Tough decision' to leave Aubameyang out of Champions League squad - Potter

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group E - FC Salzburg v Chelsea - Red Bull Arena Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria - October 25, 2022 Chelsea's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in action REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

(Reuters) - Chelsea manager Graham Potter said it was a "tough decision" to leave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of their Champions League squad for the knockout stages but said the Gabon striker still has a role to play at the London club.

Aubameyang was absent from the 25-player list named on Friday and there was no place for 35-million-pound ($42-million) January signing Benoit Badiashile, but British record transfer Enzo Fernandez was included.

Mykhailo Mudryk, who joined for an initial fee of 70 million euros ($76 million) from Shakhtar Donetsk, and loan signing Joao Felix were also included in the list.

"Pierre's a professional and I understand he will be disappointed. It was a tough decision," said Potter.

"We had three coming in and two had to go out. He was the one that has missed out. It's absolutely nothing bad against him. He has done nothing wrong at all."

Aubameyang has failed to impress since joining the club from Barcelona in September, scoring only one Premier League goal in 11 appearances.

His last Premier League start was in November and he was substituted in a 1-0 defeat by Manchester City in early January after having come off the bench.

"Pierre's just unfortunate and he will be fighting for his place for the rest of the season. He has handled it very well," Potter said. "He's been a top, top guy for us."

Chelsea, who visit Borussia Dortmund in their last-16 first leg tie on Feb. 15, were only allowed to register a maximum of three new players for the knockout stage.

Badiashile joined in a big-money deal from Monaco in early January but was left out with Chelsea seemingly well-stocked at centre back with Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly all included.

All clubs are limited to a 25-man squad and Chelsea used 24 players in the group stage, with only one of them - Jorginho - leaving the club in the January transfer window.

Chelsea are ninth in the Premier League on 30 points after Friday's 0-0 draw with Fulham at home.

Chelsea's Champions League squad:

Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marcus Bettinelli and Edouard Mendy

Defenders: Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Kalidou Koulibaly, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marc Cucurella and Wesley Fofana

Midfielders: Enzo Fernandez, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Denis Zakaria, Hakim Ziyech, Conor Gallagher and Carney Chukwuemeka

Forwards: Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Kai Havertz

Charlie Webster, Lewis Hall and Armando Broja were included in the squad as B List players.

($1 = 0.8275 pounds)

($1 = 0.9249 euros)

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Angelica Medina in Mexico City; Editing by Toby Davis and William Mallard)

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