Rafael Benitez has confirmed Eden Hazard will be available to face Tottenham on Wednesday night, but John Mikel Obi and Ryan Bertrand are out.
All three were absent from Sunday’s win at Manchester United, but Hazard, who has been in sparkling form recently, returns to the squad after picking up a calf injury against Basel five days ago, while there is also good news regarding Oriol Romeu, whose recovery from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament seems complete.
‘Hazard was training in a normal training session. He is fine, he is in the squad,’ Benitez said. ‘Mikel is not available, he is still in some pain. Bertrand is not available with a problem with his knee, nothing serious.
‘Oriol Romeu could be available if I ask him because he is training really well. He is pushing in every training session. He is training so well we are considering playing him.’
It leaves the manager with decisions to make regarding his team selection, and he feels he has a group of players desperate to be involved.
‘I think it’s important to manage the squad and important for them. It doesn’t matter if you pick one or the other, they all want to win and be a part of the important games.’
As important games go, they do not come much bigger than tomorrow night’s Barclays Premier League clash, where a win would all but confirm Champions League football at Stamford Bridge next season.
‘At this point it is crucial because if we win we are in the top four, nearly guaranteed,’ Benitez said. ‘Earlier in the season we had important games but this is the most important.
‘We want to finish in the top three or even more. It depends on the other results but we will try to win every game.’
Standing in our way is a former Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, and one of the Premier League’s most influential players this season, Gareth Bale.
‘I think he is a good manager, he is working hard for his new team. They’re in a good position and doing well,’ Benitez said of Villas-Boas, adding of Bale: ‘He is very good, having a great season and scoring a lot of crucial goals for them. He is playing in different positions and doing well in all of them. The way we play, we have a good team with good players. We have to keep an eye on him but they have to keep an eye on ours.’
Benitez was also asked about David Luiz, following the incident late on at Old Trafford on Sunday, in which Manchester United defender Rafael was sent off for a high and late tackle on his fellow Brazilian.
‘I’m aware David Luiz is one of the best players in the Premier League. He is one of the best by miles,’ Benitez said. ‘If we’re talking about that we’re not talking about Chelsea beating Manchester United, and doing much better than United in three games, two in Old Trafford.
‘I don’t agree with this. David Luiz was laughing because the fans were abusing him, and after was the red card, the timing was very clear, but we continue talking about this instead of trying to eradicate the bad tackles we see every week.
‘We are giving importance to something not as important as the other things. I don’t like the situation but we’re talking about one of the best players in the Premier League.’