It was confirmed on Wednesday that Eden Hazard has made the 2,300-mile round trip to Belarus to take on BATE in the Europa League, but given he isn’t 100% fit he shouldn’t be starting.
The Blues are six points clear at the top of their group after recording a perfect start to their European campaign, so the former Lille man may not be needed. Hazard did play 26 minutes against Crystal Palace with the score tied at 1-1, although his introduction was more necessary then in order to get the three points than it should be against bottom-of-the-group BATE.
Speaking to the Evening Standard after the win against the Eagles, Sarri said: “We were a little bit in trouble so we needed some quality and personality. We were lucky because we had Eden on the bench. I spoke yesterday with the doctor and he said he was doing better but, for me, is not able to play for 90 minutes. So I asked for the bench, and he said I could try. But no more than 30 minutes. We were lucky.”
By the sounds of it, the Italian was reluctant to play the 27-year-old at all on Sunday, but felt that he had to with the game level. While he has made the trip to Belarus, it doesn’t seem likely he will make the starting XI.
In that respect, coupled with Chelsea’s commanding lead in Group L, the former Napoli boss may be keen to experiment with his side and give some fringe players the chance to impress, namely Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The 18-year-old hasn’t started since making four starts back in pre-season, including the Community Shield final against Manchester City. His only appearance since then has coincidentally come against BATE at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture of Thursday’s game, where he played just 30 minutes.
There have been constant calls for the academy graduate to get his first competitive start for the club by the Stamford Bridge faithful, and with Alvaro Morata and Victor Moses both left in the capital Sarri could allow the teenager to express himself on Thursday.