Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will not risk Eden Hazard in tonight’s Champions League opener against Azerbaijan side Qarabag. The 26-year-old recently underwent ankle surgery, and has featured just once for Chelsea this season, as a late substitute in their 2-1 victory over Leicester City at the weekend.
Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Antonio Conte hinted that he may have to rotate his squad over the next few weeks.
“For sure to play seven games in 21 days is not easy but we are ready, and for this reason I need to rotate the players in my squad. They must feel totally involved in this process.” said Conte
adding: “We played two days ago and then we play tomorrow and then have another tough game against Arsenal and then the Carabao Cup, and then two games in the league against Stoke and Manchester City, then Atletico Madrid.”
Conte said of Hazard: “Eden Hazard is in the group and he’s working very well to find the best physical condition, but I think he needs a bit of time to continue to improve and to avoid taking a stupid risk.”
Conte clearly has good intentions with regards to Hazard’s fitness, but its unlikely that other Premier League sides will be resting their top players this week – regardless of the opposition. Qarabag may be European minnows, but Chelsea would do well not the underestimate last season’s Azerbaijan champions.