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Hazard rested for Chelsea's trip to Greece

 

By Matt McGeehan

Eden Hazard was excused from Chelsea's Europa League trip to PAOK after twice telling Maurizio Sarri he was tired.

The 27-year-old playmaker led Belgium to third place at the World Cup and has been in scintillating form for the Blues.

Hazard scored a hat-trick last Saturday against Cardiff as Chelsea claimed a fifth Premier League win from five games before asking to be omitted from the trip to Greece.

Sarri said: "He told me after the national team (duty earlier this month) and the match against Cardiff he was a little bit tired, so I thought it was better to stay to have training and rest." Hazard received special dispensation to delay his return from his post-World Cup break until after the Community Shield.

He made substitute appearances in the first two League games and has scored five goals in his subsequent three starts, delighting the Blues faithful who feared he would make a summer switch to Real Madrid.

Brazil defender David Luiz has also been rested, Mateo Kovacic has a minor injury and Emerson Palmieri is also not among the 21-strong travelling group.

Chelsea play at West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday and Liverpool in the Carabao Cup next Wednesday.

But Sarri said he would not be making wholesale changes for a match he perceives to be Chelsea's toughest of the group stage.

The 59-year-old former Napoli boss said: "In order to win our group, the match of tomorrow is the most important because it's the most difficult match.

"In the first part of the season it's very important to play with the same players.

"Tomorrow I have to change four, five players, but it's impossible in this moment of a season to change 11 players for a match."

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