Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard will sit out of Belgium’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra on Friday, it has been confirmed by manager Marc Wilmots, but may return for the following encounter with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Hazard completed the full 90 minutes in Chelsea’s weekend victory over Arsenal, during which he conceded and converted a penalty, but sustained a stubbed toe once reporting for international duty the following day.
“As a precaution, [Hazard] will not play against Andorra because of a bruised toe,” Wilmots tweeted.
It is a tactical omission from Wilmots who would much rather use Hazard against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday than in the meeting with Andorra, with Belgium expected to beat their lowly opposition convincingly.
They should do this without the influence of Hazard but his inclusion in the game that follows could prove to be more important for Belgium, even if Bosnia-Herzegovina were surprisingly beaten by Cyprus in the first round of fixtures.
This injury to Hazard is unlikely to pose any great concern for Chelsea given how minor it is, although Jose Mourinho will be a keen observer is his player is indeed included during Belgium’s second match of this international break.
Hazard may not have been the stand-out performer for Chelsea during this fledgling campaign but he is immensely important to the club, as demonstrated by the willingness to offer him a club record £200,000-per-week deal. Mourinho will, then, be hoping he returns to Stamford Bridge unscathed.
The Chelsea manager will, however, be thankful that Hazard will be afforded a period of rest, albeit a short one, with a packed club schedule on the horizon which includes four games in 10 games starting on Saturday week.
Chelsea meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park before a return to Champions League action against Maribor, the weakest opponents in their group, and an encounter away at Manchester United the following weekend.
After this trip to Old Trafford there will be a far more straightforward meeting with Shrewsbury Town in the Capital One Cup, a game in which Chelsea should be able to win handsomely to confirm their passage into the next round.