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Hazard set for first Chelsea start of season but Pedro injury adds to Conte’s concerns

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Chelsea FC v Qarabag FK - UEFA Champions League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Of the three questionable lineup decisions Antonio Conte made on Sunday, the least surprising one was his continuing insistence on keeping Eden Hazard wrapped in cotton wool and consigning him to yet another appearance off the bench. One of these days Hazard will surely be ready to start a game, right?

Well, that day could be as soon as Wednesday!

“The last 20 minutes Hazard played very well. Now on Wednesday he will have the possibility to start the game against Nottingham Forest and then to complete his recovery. We hope everything will be okay after this game.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC

Hazard’s return to full fitness, at long last, could come at just the perfect time. Pedro’s rotten injury luck against Arsenal continued on Sunday, this time picking up an ankle ailment to go along with the facial fractures he suffered in the summer friendly in Beijing.

“After the first half Pedro was a bit injured because he had a kick on his ankle and then I change it, tried to have more balance in the midfield.

“Pedro took a knock to his ankle and wasn't 100 per cent fit. For this reason, I decided to make a substitution in the second half. We have to check with the doctor, but I hope this problem is not serious. We lost Pedro against Arsenal in China as well.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Goal

Bakayoko’s introduction showed once again that the 3-5-2 is a viable option for Chelsea this season, so if Pedro does miss time and reduces our attacking options, we could see that setup a bit more often. Or perhaps Charly Musonda Jr will finally get his shot? There’s another Instagram hint out there for you if you’re into such things.