Nigerian winger Victor Moses will play no part in Chelsea’s UEFA Europa League clash against PAOK Salonica at Stamford Bridge due to a back problem, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has revealed.
Chelsea are already through to the last 32 of the competition, but one point in their last two matches will secure the top spot of Group L and will guarantee the Blues a better seeding for the First Round of knockout stages.
In the reverse fixture, Thessaloniki, Willian scored for The Blues to hand the Blues a 1-0 victory over Paok Salonica.
Moses who has made two appearances in the competition last featured for The Blues in their 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool in October.
The 27-year-old has failed to make Chelsea’s last ten matchday squads.
“The last problem is Moses. I spoke with the doctor and he has a back problem this morning, so I think he will not be able to play tomorrow,” Sarri said during his pre-match conference on Wednesday ahead of his side’s clash against PAOK Salonica at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
Sarri also ruled out Eden Hazard from the Chelsea’s Europa League match at the Bridge, but he hopes to have the Belgian back for the visit from neighbours, Fulham on Sunday.
“Then Hazard, of course, it is not a serious injury. He will not be able to play tomorrow but I think he will be able to recover for the Premier League match (Fulham).”
The Chelsea manager is also worried about Hazard’s dip in form.
“I am worried that he had a back injury and now ankle, so he has lost a lot of training, so it is normal he is not at the top form of his physical condition. He has one week and a couple of matches,” he said.
“This week it is useful for him to have training. Of course, he cannot play 10 matches in 30 days, so sometimes he has to rest.”
Sarri also recalled that Saturday’s loss to Tottenham Hotspur was down to The Blues’ players’ approach.
“It is difficult to tell me why. Someone told me that the international might have been a problem, to be back 100%. But I don’t know Maybe for Spurs it was easier as the players played in London on Sunday so was all together, but the situation was similar.
“The problem in the last three matches has been the approach in the match. Tottenham are very strong and that makes the problem bigger. They were able to destroy us in 15, and I saw that problem in the game before.”
“I went player by player. I had a meeting of ten minutes individual meetings. We lost the match after three months and a half, we have to understand why and from the mental approach. If you don’t have the determination then maybe you don’t have the character in the mind, I wanted to understand this.
“The target in my mind is very clear, it is to win something and in the long time to become the best team in Europe.”
He also believes N’Golo Kante is versatile enough to play in any role for Chelsea in midfield, but he prefers the French midfielder playing in another position, not in the defensive midfield position.
“As you know I want to play a central midfielder with great technical ability, so Jorginho and Fabregas. I don’t want Kante in this position. Kante tried to solve the match on Saturday but in the wrong way. He tried to be too attacking.
“Maybe it is a question of time. He needs to stay near Jorginho. It depends on the action (Kante getting forward). If the ball is on the left, no. He has to stay very close to Jorginho.
“I think N’Golo Kante can play in every position in midfield. With the manager’s philosophy, with Jorginho and Cesc they are a very important part of the game.
“He can play box-to-box and be a more efficient player carrying the ball, passes between the lines. We know how fast he is.
“He can perforate the lines and it is main strength. It is a new position for him, but maybe he can be more selfish around the box and he can score more goals. He is everywhere and we don’t need to question ourselves about that. We just need to adapt,” the Chelsea boss concluded.