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Could Andre Schurrle Be in Danger of Becoming the Forgotten Man at Chelsea?

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Andre Schurrle of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

Four appearances and just 130 minutes of action—Andre Schurrle hasn't enjoyed the best of starts to 2014.

Since the turn of the year, the young German has found first-team opportunities hard to come by at Stamford Bridge, while the arrival of Mohamed Salah from FC Basel means competition for places on the flanks has increased a notch.

Indeed, when Juan Mata departed for Old Trafford in January, Schurrle must have been thinking his time had come, that his importance to Jose Mourinho's team was only going to increase.

It's been quite the opposite, with Schurrle forced to watch from the stands as the Blues put themselves in pole position in the title race.

To his credit, however, while it would be the easy response to sit back and sulk, Schurrle has shown plenty of character during his spell outside of Mourinho's plans, even tweeting images of him hitting the hard yards on morning runs with his dad.

"No days off till [sic] it pays off" has been the motto and it's one it seems Schurrle is going to have to live by for a while longer yet if he is to make an impression on the Blues and English football.

The German is a fine talent, but right now there are those ahead of him that bring a little something extra to Chelsea's attacking prowess and the team's overall shape.

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Substitutes Andre Schurrle and Juan Mata of Chelsea on the bench during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Chelsea at KC Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Im
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Eden Hazard is simply brushing opponents aside in his one-man mission to win the title. The Belgian has been mesmerizing, while Willian has become much more than collateral for fans looking for one-upmanship over their rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Oscar's form has waned of late, although operating in that No. 10 role doesn't suit Schurrle's talents. He needs to be out wide, exposing his marker with his pace and bringing width to a Chelsea team that, at times, is guilty of playing a little too narrow.

Short of Mourinho dropping Hazard or Willian, though, it's unlikely to happen any time soon. Now that Salah is on the scene, he is having to share his cameo roles with the Egyptian, who was preferred as a second-half substitute against Manchester City in the 2-0 FA Cup loss on Saturday.

It was Chelsea's first visit to the North West earlier this term that suggested Schurrle's role in this team may be different to how he regularly featured for Bayer Leverkusen.

Way back in August, Mourinho had preferred him to Fernando Torres as the lone striker against Manchester United at Old Trafford. The game finished goalless, though, and that particular experiment appears to have been scrapped.

There have been signs of what he is capable of, showing the potential of him playing more direct and through the middle.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Andre Schurrle of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Phot
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Schurrle's two goals in the league match against Stoke City in December showed a player who is accomplished in front of goal and capable of finding the back of the net. His predatory finish against City in October, when he put the Blues 1-0 up at Stamford Bridge, also demonstrated a player with guile—something Chelsea have missed at various stages.

Mourinho's not seeing things quite that way. From rotating his team, looking for that winning formula in the early stages of the campaign, this Chelsea side is beginning to pick itself.

The key players are emerging, impacting games and giving the manager the one thing he craves above all else—victories.

Sitting in the dugout, Schurrle isn't one of those key players.

In fact, it's not quite clear what his role in this Chelsea team is. From a wide man to lone striker, back on the flanks and then the substitutes' bench, the 23-year-old's debut campaign in English football is regressing at an alarming rate.

If the trend continues, his dad may well need some new running shoes.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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