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Antonio Conte to remain cautious with Eden Hazard ahead of busy period for Chelsea

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Belgium v Gibraltar - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Eden Hazard successfully completed two starts and two substitute appearances over the past three weeks, one of each for the Chelsea Development Squad and the Belgian National Team, and he’s done so without any issues relating to the broken ankle he suffered back at the start of the summer. Hazard appears ready to get back to proper action and he himself has talked about his desire to get back on the pitch and start having a bit of fun again. Spending a summer doing little else other than rehab, it’s only understandable that he would want to get back into the swing of things sooner rather than later.

But it sounds like Antonio Conte will not be rushing him by any means — unlike with Tiemoue Bakayoko, which, in fairness, was a case of dire emergency a few weeks ago against Spurs. According to Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard, Conte is “wary about rushing Hazard back too soon”, which basically amounts to him starting just on the bench this coming weekend against Leicester City.

With Chelsea set to play seven games in the next three weeks, there will be plenty of time for Hazard to play and plenty of need to keep him fresh and rotated. Conte did not do the latter much at all last season, but he also didn’t need to. Now, this period (and this season in general) will be a test not only of his tactics and the squad’s depth and fitness, but the Chelsea boss’s squad management skills as well.