Maurizio Sarri unsure if Eden Hazard is ready to play 90 minutes against Everton
The 27-year-old missed three matches with a back injury and on Thursday night made his first start since October 20.
The 27-year-old missed three matches with a back injury and on Thursday night made his first start since the October 20 draw with Manchester United.
Hazard played for 62 minutes as Chelsea advanced to the Europa League knockout stages with victory at BATE Borisov of Belarus, having made his return as a substitute in last Sunday’s win over Crystal Palace.
The Blues will be seeking to extend their unbeaten start under Sarri to 18 competitive games against the Toffees, with the London derby with Spurs following at Wembley on November 24.
Chelsea’s only loss this season came in the Community Shield to Manchester City and the Blues won a fourth Europa League game to advance from Group L.
Sarri said Hazard would play for 45 or 50 minutes in Belarus, but the Belgian stayed on for over an hour.
He was kept on for “five minutes more” than intended, because Sarri felt Ruben Loftus-Cheek had an issue with his back, which the Blues boss later downplayed.
On Hazard, the Italian added: “He’s doing very well with his back, but now of course he needs to improve the physical performance.
“He interrupted the activity for 10, 12 days. So it’s important to have minutes on the pitch in a gradual way.”
Sarri was far from satisfied with the performance at BATE, despite sealing qualification for the knockout stages with two matches to spare, and is likely to restore rested defenders David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso.
Midfielder N’Golo Kante was a late call-up for the trip following illness to Cesc Fabregas, but the Frenchman did not feature and is likely to start against Everton.
Fabregas and Loftus-Cheek are the only doubts.