Eden Hazard asked to be rested for Chelsea’s Europa League clash with PAOK on Thursday after complaining of tiredness, Maurizio Sarri has revealed.
The 27-year-old has not travelled to Greece with the squad after telling his boss he felt fatigued following his hat-trick against Cardiff on Saturday.
Sarri granted him the game off, leaving Hazard at home while Chelsea kick off their European campaign at the hostile Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki.
‘He told me that after the national team and after the match against Cardiff he was a little bit tired,’ Sarri confirmed. ‘I thought it was better to stay in Cobham, to have training and to rest.’
David Luiz has also been rested. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has travelled, though the frustrated England midfielder was last night offered no guarantees of game time by Sarri.
World Cup star Loftus-Cheek has featured for a total of 33 minutes for Chelsea this season.
When asked if he will start against PAOK, Sarri said: ‘Loftus-Cheek, for me, is a very good player but I don’t know if there is a spot for him.
‘Now it is very difficult because in the first part of the season it is very important to play with possibly the same players, just to have a very solid team.
‘Unfortunately we have to play with 11 players and I have 28, so 17 players will not agree with me, so I don’t know.’
Meanwhile, Chelsea fans face a hellish commute to the PAOK ground with Greek authorities having slapped strict restrictions on English visitors.
Supporters have been told that they will not be allowed inside if they do not arrive on a designated bus from Thessaloniki’s city centre.
It should only take 25 minutes to get from A to B, but fans have been warned they could be held on the coaches for around three hours.
Chelsea sold 1,200 tickets for the game but sources said only 500 have travelled after they were warned to only visit Thessaloniki at their own risk.
On the hostile atmosphere that could greet them in Greece, Sarri said: ‘My players are professionals so they must be able to play in every situation.’