Gianfranco Zola has ruled three players out of tomorrow’s game between Chelsea and Nottingham Forest, and indicated others will be rested, which means chances for young players to have FA Cup action.
Willian was the latest to join the injured list, when he came off in the first half of Wednesday’s hosting of Southampton. Assistant coach Zola, taking on media conference duties at Cobham on Friday afternoon, says he does not think the Brazilian’s injury is too serious but he will not be available tomorrow. Neither will Pedro nor Olivier Giroud although there is a good chance those two will be back for the first leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham next week.
Fit immediately however is Callum Hudson-Odoi following minor hamstring trouble. With the injuries to other attacking players and Eden Hazard in line to be rested this weekend, Hudson-Odoi is looking likely to play against Forest.
‘The injuries will leave space for some of the young players,’ Zola reported. ‘There are players who have played five or six games in a short period of time, so it will be necessary to do a little bit of rotation.
‘Callum Hudson-Odoi is back in full training. Yesterday he trained with the whole team and he is certainly available. It is very much looking like he is going to play.’
Speaking about the 18-year-old’s long-term future, Zola added:
‘I know Bayern Munich are very interested in him but we are as well. We have proposed him a contract for quite a while so we are waiting to see what the player thinks about that. We certainly value him as a player. I know he has not played probably as much as he wanted but this is down to the quality of the players he has in front of him.
‘But I have already told him it is not a waste of time. It is a time you can really get better and I hope Callum is using this time in a wise way as it will do good things to his football, and hopefully he will come to sign the contract with us. We believe he can have a bright future here.
'For an 18-year-old he has a lot of potential but the journey is not finished. He is at an age when it is very important to keep a good attitude. You have to use these years to keep improving. It is not important to play straight away or to play 20 or 30 games, it is important to develop. He has potential to be a top player but he has to keep an open mind to improving and keep getting better day by day. It is important he focuses on what he should do to be better than Willian, than Pedro, than Hazard. If he does that with the qualities he has I have no doubt he is going to be a fantastic player.'
Zola also commented further on Hazard and the opportunity to give him a break.
'Eden has been fantastic in this period, he has played a lot of games and we are very demanding of him because he is such an influential player. So tomorrow I believe he might get a rest but we are in a situation where we don’t have many players, but the idea is to give him some rest.’
The coach was asked to shed some light on the situation with another player who like Hudson-Odoi has been subject to speculation over his future, Cesc Fabregas.
‘Cesc has always been a wonderful professional ever since I have been here. I don’t know to be honest. You are asking me a question I wish could answer. His contract runs out in six months and I don’t know how it is going to go but despite that, I know if he plays tomorrow he will as usual deliver a good performance.’