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Thursday 8 December 2016

Mourinho issues hazard warning

Belgian ace might feature against Kiev despite recent bench role

Chelsea's Eden Hazard in action
Chelsea's Eden Hazard in action

Jose Mourinho refused to say whether Eden Hazard will return to Chelsea's starting line-up for tonight's Champions League Group G clash at Dynamo Kiev.

Mourinho was critical of Hazard, the stand-out performer in last season's Premier League triumph, after leaving the Belgium playmaker on the substitutes' bench for last Saturday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

And the Blues boss declined to reveal if Hazard, who has been told to up his work rate, will start at the NSK Olimpiysky as Chelsea seek to respond from defeat at Porto in their most recent Champions League game.

"If he plays tomorrow I don't tell you. The players don't know," Mourinho said.

Mourinho has left forwards Pedro and Loic Remy behind due to minor injuries, increasing the likelihood Hazard will return to the starting XI.

The Portuguese was critical of Hazard during his first season back at Stamford Bridge and the desired response followed, with the forward compared favourably with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when winning individual footballer of the year awards last season.

"I didn't say he had a better season than Ronaldo," Mourinho said.

Titles

"Last season he won one of the most important titles in football, which is the Premier League, and (he was) absolutely decisive for Chelsea. Last season he had a phenomenal season."

Asked about Hazard's response to his comments, Mourinho said: "How did he train? He trained like Eden."

Mourinho also says Radamel Falcao has given no indication to him of his apparent desire to leave Chelsea following reports in yesterday morning's newspapers.

"First of all I don't know if it's true. To me he said absolutely nothing in relation to that," Mourinho said.

"I speak with him every day. It's quite strange the press know something I don't know and my club doesn't know. We don't have one single bit of information about it. What he has to do is play more? He has to give us more than Diego (Costa).

"We normally play with one striker. I always go for the performance level. It's a direct competition between players for one position. The best one plays."

Falcao, Oscar and Remy were left behind for the loss at Porto three weeks ago due to a selection decision. The reason for the absence of Remy and Pedro this time was minor injuries. "Nothing important, but big risk for tomorrow," Mourinho said. "We have other options, especially because they are in positions where we have other players."

Mourinho was last week in Kiev for Ukraine's Euro 2016 qualifying loss to Spain, monitoring his own Chelsea players rather than scouting Andriy Yarmolenko, a rumoured transfer target for a host of clubs who last week signed a new five-year contract with Dynamo.

"When people start some rumours they have to think a little bit before the rumour," Mourinho added.

"Why? When Chelsea has Pedro, Hazard, Willian, Kenedy, (Bertrand) Traore and (on loan Juan) Cuadrado, Victor Moses.

"We cannot make a collection of wingers. When people want to make rumours they have to find players in positions where we don't have so many."

Chelsea's win over Villa eased the pressure on Mourinho, who added: "We need to win matches. We just want to win the next match. We don't think about where we are.

"We need to win matches in the Premier League to improve our position. We need to win points in Champions League to qualify. The point is improve results, at the same time improve our game, improve our confidence."

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