Antonio Conte believes Eden Hazard will be "fit" when Chelsea visit Crystal Palace on Saturday (17 December) but refused to confirm whether the Belgium star will be ready to make the line-up. Meanwhile, the Italian boss said that he has no fresh injury concerns from the team that beat Sunderland on Wednesday but John Terry remains on the sidelines.
Hazard, 25, missed the 1-0 victory over the Black Cats after suffering a minor knee injury in the preparation of the game.
But the Belgium international has since been able to return to training and could be back in action at Selhurst Park in a bid to help the Premier League leaders to secure their 11th consecutive league victory.
Conte confirmed the good news in the press conference but failed to confirm whether Hazard will start the game as suggested that some key players could be rested ahead of the busy Christmas period.
"Yeah, I think he's fit. He trained today with us," Conte said, in the press conference ahead of the trip to Palace. "Then, I have to see if I decide to put Eden in the starting XI – not only him, but also for the other players. I have tonight to decide"
"It's not easy to play three games in six days. We played against Sunderland on Wednesday and got back at 4am. We have had only one day to prepare for the game and play again at 12.30. For this reason, it's important to see every single detail and then to take the best decision for tomorrow."
Conte replaced Hazard with Willian at Sunderland while Cesc Fabregas scored the only goal of the game after starting in the middle of the park ahead of Nemanja Matic. The Italian boss says that Chelsea must be ready to cope without some key players ahead the festive period as he cannot select the same starting XI in every game.
"Before with Eden we played a lot of games and we played very well, and then it can happen that a player has an injury. I hope when we have this type of situation the substitute plays very well," he said. "I need all my players in every game and I repeat it's important to have the possibility to choose, above all when we are in an emergency. Until now, we were lucky we haven't had a lot of injuries."
In this sense Conte revealed he will have plenty of options as his disposal to face Palace as Terry is the only player who remains unavailable. The Captain was expected to be back for the Christmas period but the boss refused to set a time frame on his return.