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Chelsea pre-Derby presser: Hazard, Pedro injury status; Barkley, Sarri, Mount praise

Chelsea vs Derby County, League Cup 4th Round: Pre-match press conference

After destroying Burnley 4-0, next up for Chelsea are Championship side Derby County in the League Cup. As in the previous round of the Cup, assistant Gianfranco Zola is handling the media duties, not head coach Maurizio Sarri.

First things first, the team news. Eden Hazard may be back in training but is still unavailable for selection after the hammering he received in the Manchester United game. Pedro is unavailable as well due to stomach issues and so is Olivier Giroud, due to fatigue. Ethan Ampadu is a matchday decision.

“There is Pedro, who has had a stomach ache. He came off Sunday. He was getting better, but there is still a little problem. We don’t know. We can assess him tomorrow.

”Also Olivier Giroud he has a little fatigue problem with one of the legs. We’re going to assess him tomorrow as well. Ampadu has been back in training yesterday. Today or tomorrow we’re going to decide whether he’s going to be part of the team. We’re going to leave it until tomorrow morning.”

“[Hazard is] certainly much better. Not sure today, maybe tomorrow he’s going to join us in training. I don’t think he’s going to be involved in the game tomorrow, but he’s looking quite good for the weekend. We are pleased because he’s such an important player for us.”

Among those who are available, two names, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek seem to be on everyone's tongues these days, with the two young Englishmen racking up the goals and turning heads with their overall performances. Zola gives a lot of credit not only to their hard work, but to the head coach as well. Nothing is a coincidence under Sarri’s watch.

“First of all, nothing is a coincidence. Sarri was known as a coach that works very hard with his team. He really pays attention to everything. The consequence of him doing well is because of his ability to work hard with his team. On top of that, you have to add that the team is following his advice very well.

”Players are getting benefit from what they do. You can see, for example, Ross Barkley, now Ruben. Many other players are picking up very well. They are enjoying the type of football he’s trying to implement here and they find a lot of benefit. This is creating a good work environment. And the results are only a consequence of this.”

“The best midfielder I’ve ever seen having that quality, attacking the box, getting in the box in the right moment [is Frank Lampard]. That’s why he scored so many goals. Ross likes to play more with the ball, to be involved in the action. What I’ve seen in the last two, three weeks is scoring ability is coming on very well. I knew from the beginning he had this ability.

”At first it wasn’t showing, because he was very much involved in learning tactically what the team needs him to do. Now he’s getting that freedom. I think there are some differences between him and Frank. Although there are similarities. Both of them have unbelievable potential.”

Speaking of unbelievable potential, Chelsea loanee Mason Mount has been starring for the Rams this season, and while he may or may not be fit for tomorrow’s game, Zola had some fantastic words of praise to offer about the youngster as well (who, like many young players, still needs to work on his physicality).

“I came across him when I first came here. I was analysing the players we had on loan. He was one of the first players I analysed. And I said ‘this player is for us’. This was the plan, to keep him at least for pre-season with us. But then an opportunity to send him to play in England in such a competitive league like the Championship came and the club decided it was good for him.

”I like him very much, because he’s one of those players that has the mental speed to work out things very quickly. You can see that in the way he plays. Physically he has to improve. The Premier League is a different level. But he’s getting on very well. I’m pleased for him. And I’m looking forward to seeing him tomorrow playing at Stamford Bridge. I’m sure he’ll be up for it and it will be important to get even more indications for us.”

Niceties aside, there is a football match to be won, and both teams will be doing everything in their power to do so. Once the whistle blows, there are no friends for the next 90 minutes (and penalty shootout if needed).

“We’re going to study them. We know their strengths. And we’re going to be working on that. We certainly respect their value, they’re a very good team. The way they play football.

”They have good players, like, for example Mason Mount, he belongs to Chelsea. Also Lawrence, Wilson, Nugent. We know they have a lot of quality up front. We have to play the game with a lot of respect for them, otherwise it will be trouble.”

-Gianfranco Zola; Source: Football.London

Here’s hoping that the Blues are able to continue on our winning ways and progress to the next round of the League Cup.

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