x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 December 2017

Conte ready to give Hazard first Chelsea start of the season in League Cup third round

Belgian forward has been limited to substitute appearances as he recovers from an ankle fracture.

Eden Hazard is set to start for Chelsea against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup third round on Wednesday night. Neil Hall / EPA
Eden Hazard is set to start for Chelsea against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup third round on Wednesday night. Neil Hall / EPA

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said Eden Hazard will start Wednesday night’s League Cup third round tie against Nottingham Forest as the Belgian forward completes the “final step” from his ankle injury.

Hazard, 26, sustained a fractured ankle while on international duty with Belgium in June and as such, is yet to start for Chelsea this season. However, after three substitute appearances, Conte is ready to start Hazard in the League Cup.

“Now is the right moment for Eden to start the game and try to play the whole game,” Conte said. “I hope for him it is the final step from his injury. We have managed his situation very well.

“In my career I was injured a lot of times, and I have a bit of experience about this. Now he is ready to start the game.”

Conte is set to make changes to his starting line-up and the Italian revealed he will give a chance to his squad’s younger players, including Belgian winger Charly Musonda and Brazilian Kenedy, who faced disciplinary action for social media posts during the pre-season tour of China.

“It’s a good opportunity to give chances to some players who in the last period didn’t play a lot,” Conte said. “It could be a good opportunity for Charly Musonda, and also for Kenedy. Kenedy knows very well what happened in China. He made a mistake, but everyone in life can make a mistake.

“He is focused, he is working very well and he understood his mistake. Now he is ready to play and to show he deserves a place for the future. You can see Charly’s talent very clearly. I am sure we are talking about a young player with really good prospects.”

Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian, right. Aaron M Sprecher / AFP
Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian, right. Aaron M Sprecher / AFP

Italian full-back Matteo Darmian is confident Manchester United have a strong enough squad to compete in every competition as the League Cup holders begin their trophy defence against Championship side Burton Albion.

United won the first of their two trophies last season against Southampton, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic producing the winner in a 3-2 win having let a 2-0 lead slip.

United are co-leaders in the Premier League and have returned to the Uefa Champions League, so the League Cup might be viewed with less importance than it was 12 months ago. However, Darmian insists United are taking the competition seriously and are determined to defend the title.

“I think it’s always difficult to defend a title, but we will try,” he told the United Review. “We want to win every trophy. When we are on the pitch, we try to win every game, and that’s our main mentality.”

As United attempt to compete on multiple fronts this season, Darmian believes the club’s squad depth will prove an important factor.

“We have a very good squad, 25 very good players, so every player is important, especially when we have seven games in 22 days,” he said.

“So everyone has to be ready, everyone will be ready. When the manager gives us the chance, we have to take it.”

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck, left. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images
Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck, left. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck is out for at least three weeks with a groin injury and manager Arsene Wenger said yesterday that the striker is unlikely to return before next month’s international break.

Welbeck was hurt in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday and will miss tonight’s League Cup match against third tier side Doncaster Rovers, Premier League games with West Bromwich Albion and Brighton & Hove Albion, and a Europa League fixture against Bate Borisov.

“Danny has a scan today, we don’t know how bad his groin injury is but he will certainly be out until the international break,” Wenger told the club’s website.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman. Rui Vieira / AP Photo
Everton manager Ronald Koeman. Rui Vieira / AP Photo

Everton manager Ronald Koeman is hoping a run of four home games starting with tonight’s League Cup tie against Sunderland will help his side arrest an alarming run of defeats.

Everton have played five of their past six matches away from home, losing their last four.

“We need to analyse the game but it is important to take the positives from Sunday and prepare ourselves for Wednesday,” said Koeman.

“We now play four times in a row at home in different competitions. We need a feeling for a win and that will give the best confidence to the players.”