Maurizio Sarri is considering leaving Eden Hazard out of his Europa League squad this week to spare him a 2,300-mile round trip to Belarus.
Chelsea play BATE Borisov on Thursday night and depart for Minsk on Wednesday. Hazard has just recovered from a back injury which ruled him out of three matches and Sarri is debating whether it is worth risking the 27-year-old.
The Belgium international has been Chelsea’s best player this term and is the club’s top scorer with eight goals.
Sarri revealed ahead of the 3-1 victory against Crystal Palace that Hazard was still not fully match fit. The Chelsea boss named him on the bench and brought him on with just 26 minutes remaining, when the score was still tied at 1-1.
Sarri is wary about Hazard reaggravating the problem, with the more important clash against Everton in the Premier League on Sunday. He has already set a precedent by allowing Hazard to remain behind to recuperate.
Chelsea have won all three of their games in Group L and Hazard has been used in just one of them, when he came off the bench at home to MOL Vidi.
Sarri has Willian, Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi to choose from to play in the wide areas against BATE if Hazard is not involved.
Pedro is in no doubt how vital Hazard is to their cause and said: “He’s the most important player here. He’s a star.”