Antonio Conte has insisted he will not risk causing a setback in Eden Hazard’s ankle injury recovery ahead of a crunch London derby with Arsenal.
Hazard made his second appearance of the season in Tuesday’s 6-0 thrashing of Qarabag in the Champions League – the Belgium international coming on as a 58th-minute substitute in his first action since he suffered a broken ankle on international duty in June.
Speaking to the Daily Mail after the rousing victory, Conte warned Chelsea’s fan base to be patient with their returning talisman and stated that he would not be rushing Hazard back too soon as he continues to build up his match fitness.
The Italian said: “I think with Eden, we must have a bit of patience with him, to try to give the possibility for Eden to recover very well and be totally fit.
“This is the right process for him. Don’t forget, in the team there are two players like Pedro and Willian, who are playing very well.
“We must be pleased to see Eden in the team. Now we must have calm and do the best for the player and for the team. Otherwise we risk bad injury and delaying the situation. That’s not good. This process is good for him.”
Chelsea’s first Champions League game for two seasons saw the reigning Premier League champions paste their opponents at Stamford Bridge in thrilling fashion, with no fewer than five different goalscorers – plus an own goal – on the night.
Conte added that he was pleased with his side’s showing in their Group C opener and was now only thinking ahead to a massive clash in the capital with the Gunners on Sunday.
He stated: “I think it was a good start, a perfect start, for us to play our first game in the Champions League and win with a good result. To score many goals. To finish the game with a clean sheet. I saw a lot of positive things tonight.
“Now we have to continue, to rest tomorrow and then to start to think about the next game, a strong game, a tough game against Arsenal.”