Antonio Conte Surprised by Eden Hazard Belgium Call-Up in Pre-Everton Presser

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2017

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / IKIMAGES AND AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted he is "surprised" at the decision to call Eden Hazard up to the Belgium squad. 

The forward has not played for the Blues this season, but he featured in the group confirmed by Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. 

Conte, speaking ahead of Sunday's meeting with Everton, dropped a big hint that he was unhappy, per ESPN FC's Liam Twomey:

Hazard has been sidelined since June due to a fracture of his right ankle and is poised to play in an under-23 match on Friday against the Toffees, according to Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard.

Conte insisted it is important to be cautious in Hazard's recovery after such a serious injury, per the club's Twitter account:

That aside, the coach said he had a full squad to pick from:

While the Chelsea supporters will be a little concerned about the decision to summon Hazard to international duty, they will be delighted he is nearing a return to full fitness. The club's fans will also be hopeful that the Blues bring in some new faces before the end of the window.

Already this summer the champions have added Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata. When pressed on other any potential business, the Blues boss was giving little away:

One of the most active teams in the summer window in the Premier League have been Everton, and they'll come to the Bridge with confidence after taking four points from their first two games.

Conte admitted he has been impressed with the work done by the Toffees in the summer and that he expects them to be a tough team to play:

The Italian was also asked about Everton striker Wayne Rooney and his decision to retire from international football. Conte admitted he was disappointed with that choice, though he was pleased to see the striker had rediscovered his swagger:

The Blues found some impetus in their last outing. With the pressure on last Sunday they travelled to Tottenham Hotspur's new Wembley home knowing a win was crucial and came away with a 2-1 victory.

It's a win that has lifted some of the frustration surrounding Chelsea this summer, and the manager was delighted with his side:

Everton will be a difficult opponent for Chelsea on Sunday. In their previous Premier League outing they went to Manchester City and were well worth the 1-1 draw they emerged with; Ronald Koeman's side have done some smart business in the summer window and will be a threat to the top sides throughout 2017-18.

Had Chelsea not beaten Spurs at Wembley last weekend, you sense there would have been some nervousness at Stamford Bridge for this one. However, with new signings performing well and a big win under their belt, expect the Blues to fly out of the traps.

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