Antonio Conte has admitted that he is still treating Eden Hazard with caution as he returns from the ankle injury which ruled him out of the start of the season.
The Belgian is still yet to start a game since making his first post-injury appearance for Belgium more than three weeks ago, coming off the bench for 20 minutes against Stoke on the weekend in the Blues’ comfortable 4-0 win.
Quoted by the Evening Standard, Conte revealed that Hazard was in contention to dive in at the deep end when the squad travel from west London to Madrid to face Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday.
“I think Eden is improving a lot and in contention for the game (in Madrid),” he said. “After his injury and surgery you need time, and if I make the decision (to start him) it is because I think he is ready. When you are in a great team with many great players, you must understand that you need to be ready to start on the bench, ready to come on and make a difference.
“I don’t see a problem. We are managing his recovery very well. Hazard is very important for us, so we have to make sure he is ready to play a full game.”
The Blues have recovered from a shock opening day defeat at the hands of Burnley to climb the table in recent weeks, now sitting in third place just three points behind a Manchester monopoly at the top – dropping further points only in a 0-0 draw against Arsenal just over a week ago.