Eden Hazard to start for Chelsea against Nottingham Forest - Conte
LONDON -- Eden Hazard will complete his return from injury by starting for Chelsea in Wednesday's Carabao Cup third-round tie against Nottingham Forest, head coach Antonio Conte has confirmed.
Hazard missed the entirety of Chelsea's preseason with a broken ankle sustained on international duty with Belgium in June, and has been nursed carefully back to fitness with substitute appearances in the Blues' last three matches.
Conte believes Hazard is now ready to attempt 90 minutes against Forest, while Charly Musonda and Kenedy will also feature -- the latter in line for his first appearance since being sent home from Chelsea's preseason tour of China for offensive social media posts.
"I think for Eden now is the right moment to start the game, and to try and play the whole game," Conte told a news conference. "I hope to be with him at the final step with the injury. I think we managed very well his situation. In my career, I was injured a lot of times. Also I have a bit of experience about this situation.
"With him, we're managing the situation very well. Now he's ready to start the game and I hope to stay with him for the final step."
On the subject of Musonda and Kenedy, he added: "I'd like to tell you [the team] tomorrow. But, for sure, it could be a good opportunity for Charly [Musonda] and also for Kenedy.
"I think [Kenedy] knows very well what happened in China. For sure, he made a mistake. But I think that everyone in their life can make a mistake. Now he's focused, he's working very well, he understood his mistake. Now he's ready. He's ready to play and to show he deserves a space for the future."
Musonda is a youngster that many Chelsea supporters have been clamouring to see in the first team, and Conte said that he is a believer in the 20-year-old's potential to be a valuable contributor in a number of positions.
"We are talking about a young player, but with a really good prospect," Conte said. "You can see very clearly his talent. Now it's important he's working very well, trying to adapt himself to this league because this league is not simple.
"It's a physical league. He's a bit thin, but he's working a lot to improve his strength and to be prepared to make a big impact in this league. I trust Charly, but for sure it's important a coach trusts in a young player -- in this case, Charly -- but also important he gives a good answer when the chance to play arrives.
"In my mind, he could play as a No. 10. He could play as a winger. Also, in the future, he could play as a wing-back."
Conte also defended his intention to significantly rotate his team for the visit of Forest, insisting that he has no desire to give up on the Carabao Cup despite bigger priorities and challenging the youngsters on the fringes of Chelsea's squad to take their opportunity to impress.
"This is one of the four competitions," he added. "For this reason, we try and do our best in every competition we are going to play. You know very well that in England it's not easy to face four competitions. But you have to try.
"We have to try and do our best and, tomorrow, it's a good opportunity also to give a chance to some players who, at this moment, haven't played a lot. I think it can be a good opportunity. But, for sure, we want to try to win, to try to go into the next round.
"I think this season could be the opportunity for our players to play games. The most important thing is to take the chance when it comes, above all for the young players. We have many young players in our squad, so it's important to take these chances and show me that I can count on them."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.