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Hazard to make first start of the season for Chelsea as Conte shuffles his pack

 

By Matt McGeehan

Eden Hazard will start for Chelsea for the first time this campaign in tonight's Carabao Cup third-round tie with Nottingham Forest.

The Belgium playmaker suffered a broken ankle in June and has made three substitute appearances in the last 10 days.

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte said: "For Eden, now is the right moment to start and to try to play the whole game."

Hazard recently said Conte improved him within a week of his appointment in a comment many interpreted as a slight on Jose Mourinho, rather than praise for Chelsea's Italian boss.

Conte wants all his players to improve and says Hazard can get even better.

"He can continue to improve a lot and become one of the best," Conte said.

Conte is likely to rotate his options for the League Cup clash.

David Luiz is suspended for the first of three games after his dismissal against Arsenal and will also be absent from the Premier League games with Stoke and Manchester City.

Chelsea will not appeal the sanction after Luiz was shown a straight red for his challenge on Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac.

"It's important to move on," Conte said.

The Brazil defender will be eligible for the September 27 clash at Atletico Madrid, the backdrop of which will focus on absent striker Diego Costa. Costa is agitating for a return to Atletico, but Chelsea yesterday declined to comment on reports that a deal for the Brazil-born Spain striker was close.

Two of the young players likely to be given an opportunity against Forest are Kenedy and Charly Musonda.

Chelsea and Kenedy issued an apology for some ill-advised social media posts on China and his Blues career looked like it could be coming to an end when he was sent home from the pre-season tour to Asia.

"He made a mistake, but I think everyone in life can make mistakes," added Conte. "Now he's focused and working well."

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