Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has chosen to remain tight-lipped on whether playmaker Eden Hazard will earn a recall for their Champions League tussle with group leaders Dynamo Kiev tonight.
Hazard was dropped to the bench for Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa at the weekend as the Blues ended a run of three matches, both domestically and in Europe, without tasting victory.
The Belgian has so far failed to hit the heights of last season, which saw him score 19 goals across all competitions and crowned PFA player of the year, as well as receive favourable comparisons to Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo from Mourinho.
“If he plays, I don’t tell you. The players don’t know,” said Mourinho. “How did he train? He trained like Eden.
“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.”
Chelsea will be without forwards Pedro and Loic Remy, who have not travelled to Ukraine due to minor injuries, as they bid to reassert their Group G authority having lost 2-1 to Mourinho’s former club Porto on their last European excursion.
Another striker in the spotlight is goal-shy Colombian Radamel Falcao, although Mourinho played down any notion of the on-loan Monaco hitman wanting to bring a premature end to his Stamford Bridge tenure in January.
“First of all, I don’t know if it’s true. To me, he said absolutely nothing in relation to that,” added Mourinho. “I speak with him every day. It’s quite strange the press know something I don’t know and my club doesn’t know.
“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.”
Chelsea’s return to winning ways against Villa has done little to mask a stuttering campaign which has seen them lose six of their last 13 matches, compared to four defeats in 54 last term, and Mourinho wants incremental progress.
“We just want to win the next match,” he said. “We don’t think about where we are in relation to the top of the Premier League table, or how many points to the top of our Champions League group.”