| 13.5°C Belfast

I told Drinkwater to find new club before campaign kicked off: Sarri

Slavia Prague v Chelsea, Europa League quarter-final, first leg: Sinobo Stadium, Tonight, 8pm

Maurizio Sarri told Danny Drinkwater he was surplus to requirements at Chelsea before the current season even started.

Former Leicester star Drinkwater has not featured at all in a competitive game under head coach Sarri this season, and was arrested on suspicion of drink driving in Cheshire on April 9.

Sarri informed Drinkwater back in August he could not fit into his tactical system and suggested he find a new club - but the England midfielder opted to remain at Stamford Bridge.

"He knows very well he has never played because in my opinion he is not suitable to my system, to my way of playing," said Sarri ahead of tonight's Europa League quarter-final first leg against Slavia Prague.

"I told him everything in August. He appreciated it, but he decided to remain, and so he knew very well the situation.

"I spoke with him in August, when the market was still open. I said to him he should look for something different.

"In my opinion, he doesn't play. And I said to him the reasons, my reasons. But, as I said before, he decided to stay at Chelsea."

Asked if Drinkwater is unable to adapt to his "Sarriball" possession style, the Chelsea boss said: "No, I don't think so."

Chelsea's appeal against a two-window transfer ban relating to recruitment of overseas players aged under 18 will be heard by Fifa today.

The Blues insisted they were "astonished" by the suspension and still aim to have that embargo overturned.

Chelsea's legal team will attend the hearing in Zurich just hours before the Stamford Bridge men face Slavia Prague in their Europa League quarter-final first leg.

Asked if he would seek updates on the appeal hearing, Sarri said: "Not before the match. We have a club who are careful about everything, so I don't want to talk. We are here for the Europa League, a very important target for us, and I want my players to think about the Europa League."

Belfast Telegraph