Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has assured there is nothing to worry about by his decision to field Eden Hazard in their Europa League tie against BATE Borisov on Thursday evening.
Hazard – arguably the outstanding player in the Premier League so far this season – had missed three games with a back injury, returning as a substitute in last Sunday’s Premier League win over Crystal Palace, which featured two goals from Alvaro Morata.
The Spain striker has five goals in his last six Blues appearances, missing a hat-trick chance against Palace, but Sarri opted to leave Morata at Chelsea’s Surrey training base ahead of Sunday’s league clash with Everton.
“He played three matches in a row, so I thought it was better for him to stay in Cobham to rest and to have two good training sessions,” the Blues head coach said.
“It’s normal for a player to play three or four matches and then rest. Otherwise, we can have a squad with 13 or 14 players.”
The Italian reverted to his native tongue in an animated explanation, apparently riled by his decision being questioned.
David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso were also left in London, while Cesc Fabregas was a late withdrawal with illness, necessitating a call-up for N’Golo Kante, who otherwise would have been rested too.
On Hazard travelling, Sarri insisted there was absolutely no gamble involved with the selecting the Belgian player, as the Blues seek a fourth successive win in the competition against the Belarusians.
“There is not any risk, otherwise he would stay in Cobham, of course,” Sarri said of Hazard.
“We thought for him it’s better to play, not for 90 minutes, but to play after two weeks without training.
“In the last match he played only for 30 minutes. The best for him is he will play 45, 50 minutes.”
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