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Maurizio Sarri has explained why Eden Hazard, David Luiz and Mateo Kovacic have all been left at home for Chelsea’s first Europa League tie with Greek side PAOK.
The former Napoli boss will be without the first-team trio for the away match, despite all showing good form in the Premier League.
Hazard bagged a hat-trick against Cardiff at the weekend but Sarri believes he requires extra rest after a busy summer at the World Cup with Belgium.
Croatia midfielder and World Cup runner-up Kovacic picked up a knock against the newly-promoted Welsh side and also requires extra rest, while Sarri is also keen to treat Luiz with caution after he lacked first-team football last season.
‘David Luiz is in Cobham because he is playing without six months so I thought it was better for him to have rest,’ he said.
‘Kovacic it is better to have rest with the little injury.
‘Hazard after the national team and the match with Cardiff he was a little bit tired. I thought it was better to have training and rest.’
Sarri refused to be drawn on whether he would start Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Calum Hudson-Odoi. ‘I don’t know about Loftus,’ he added.
‘For me he is a very good player. I don’t know if there is a spot tomorrow.
‘There is in the future. Now it is very difficult because in the first part of the season it is very important to play with a very solid team. I might change four or five players, it is impossible to change every player in the match.
‘For Odoi in his position in the last match played Pedro and Hazard. I have also played [Victor] Moses and Willian. [Ethan] Ampadu, Odoi and Loftus are the future, I don’t know if the right time tomorrow is for Odoi.’