Antonio Conte confirms Eden Hazard ready to start for Chelsea
By James Dale
Last Updated: 19/09/17 3:27pm
Eden Hazard is ready to make his first start of the season for Chelsea in their Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, says Antonio Conte.
The 26-year-old, who scored 16 goals and provided five assists as Chelsea won the Premier League title last season, has so far been eased back into Conte's side having spent three months out following surgery on his fractured ankle.
Hazard made his comeback for Belgium at the start of September, and his only appearances in Chelsea's campaign so far have come from the bench, most recently as a second-half substitute in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Sunday.
"For Eden, now is the right moment to start the game and to try to play the whole game," Conte said in his press conference ahead of facing Forest on Wednesday night.
"I hope to be with him at the final step from his injury. In my [playing] career I was injured a lot and I have a bit of experience. With him, we are managing the situation well."
Hazard has claimed Conte improved him as a player within one week of becoming the permanent successor to now Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
But Conte insists there is still room for further improvement in Hazard's game.
"Our work is to try to improve every single player in tactical, physical, mental attributes," Conte added.
"The most important thing is to have players open to receive more information. To have players with great will to learn and improve. Eden is a top player, and he improved a lot. He can continue to improve in his career and become one of the best."
Charly Musonda and Kenedy will also be given opportunities in Chelsea's game against Sky Bet Championship side Forest.
Kenedy has not played since being sent home from Chelsea's pre-season tour of China following offensive social media posts.
"Everyone makes mistakes," Conte said, when asked about Kenedy. "Now he's focused, working well, he understood his mistake. He is ready to play to deserve a place for the future."
Conte expressed his trust in Musonda, 20, who was kept at Stamford Bridge this season while a number of other young players were allowed to leave on loan, and the Chelsea boss anticipates the forward could have a future in a new position.
"Charly's talent can be seen clearly, he's trying to adapt himself in this league, it's a physical league and he's a bit thin," Conte added.
"He's working a lot to improve his strength for a big impact in the league. I trust Charly. It is important to trust young players, but also to have a good answer when the chance arrives to play.
"In my mind he could play No 10, winger, and in the future as a wing back."