Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink has insisted that he is not risking Eden Hazard’s long-term fitness by pushing him too hard after injury.
After scoring 14 goals and producing nine assists last season to help the club win the Premier League title, the Belgian international has been a shadow of his former self this year.
Having failed to score in the first 24 games of the season in all competitions, Hazard’s poor form contributed to the team’s overall struggles which in turn ultimately led to the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December.
However, Hiddink is convinced that the club is doing everything they possibly can to monitor Hazard’s fitness and will continue to help work him towards getting back to 100 percent after being hampered by issues all year.
“I don’t think so because we talk with the players as well and measure them,” he told reporters, as noted by ESPN FC. “We have a system that tells us when players are coming into fatigue and the risk of injury is higher.
“We experienced that with Pedro — he was working very hard but a little bit of fatigue. Eden also had this problem a few weeks ago when coming back from his injury, going into what we call the red zone.
“But now that risk is not very big anymore. He can work hard without having a risk of going into a big injury.”
Hazard has faced plenty of criticism both on and off the pitch, as he sparked anger amongst Chelsea supporters with his decision to swap shirts with Angel Di Maria at half-time in their second-leg round-of-16 clash with PSG this week.
It came after the former Lille star had conceded that it would be difficult to turn down a move to the French capital this summer, and based on his performances this season, Chelsea may well be tempted to consider any offers.
Fitness woes or not, the 25-year-old has simply not performed for the majority of the campaign, and for a player of his talent and importance to his team, Chelsea are right to expect much more from him particularly when he regains full match fitness.