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Conte softens stance on Hazard's Belgium call-up
August 27, 2017 / 5:27 PM / 4 months ago

Conte softens stance on Hazard's Belgium call-up

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said he would not object to Eden Hazard playing some part in Belgium’s World Cup qualifiers despite voicing his surprise at the injured forward’s call-up this week.

Britain Soccer Football - Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final - Wembley Stadium - 27/5/17 Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in action with Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith

The influential Hazard is yet to play for the Premier League champions this season having suffered an ankle injury while with Belgium in June and Conte said on Friday it was “a big mistake” for Belgium coach Roberto Martinez to select him.

Conte softened his stance on Sunday after his team made do without Hazard in a 2-0 home victory over Everton.

“I had a conversation with Roberto Martinez yesterday and I think now it could be positive for Eden to go with the national team and have the training sessions, then maybe to have the possibility to play a part of the game with Gibraltar,” Conte told reporters.

”I told Roberto if I can help him I am ready to do this. In my past I was a coach of a national team and I know very well that this task is not easy but also for Eden, I talked with him and he is happy to go.

“He is the Belgium captain and the most important thing is to continue to work and improve and then after the international break, to have the possibility to have him on the bench and to start to think of him as a new player for Chelsea this season.”

Belgium host Gibraltar on Aug. 31 followed by a much tougher trip to Greece on Sept. 3.

Goals by Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata gave Chelsea the points against an Everton side looking flat after facing Manchester City on Monday and a Europa League clash with Hajduk Split in Croatia on Thursday.

Conte said it had been a good time to face Everton.

“Three games in seven days and is not easy, also because they played very tough games against Man City and then a qualification match into the Europa League,” Conte said.

”Then to play against us after our defeat at home in the first game, it was not easy for Everton today but in this case you must be really focussed and play the game in the right way and we did this really well.

“We dominated and created many chances to score and I saw many positive things.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond

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