Sarri on Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas’ role, the captaincy and whether Hudson-Odoi might play

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri spoke about a number of issues at a news conference ahead of the game against MOL Vidi. Here’s some of what the Italian had to say. 

On Thursday’s game

“I think the Europa League is a very important competition and so we have to play very well tomorrow because we have to play against a good team – they played very well in their first match of the group stage.

“It’s very important for me to play at Stamford Bridge in a European match.

“For my club at the moment it’s more important to be in the Champions League. But I still want to arrive at the end in the Europa League.”

On the fitness of Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek

“I have to speak to Pedro. He is doing better, like Loftus. And so I think tomorrow every player is available.”

On whether Chelsea are tournament favourites

“I don’t know. The Europa League is a very unusual competition because at the moment we don’t know the names of all the opponents.

“In the second round eight teams will arrive from the Champions League, so it’s very difficult, but we want to arrive by the end of the competition.”

On a possible Europa League hangover

“I don’t think we didn’t win at West Ham because of the match in Greece. We changed a lot of players and so I don’t think the reason was that.

“Of course tomorrow we need to change some players because we have spent a lot of mental and physical energy in two matches against Liverpool and then after this match we have to play again in 62 hours.

“In Italy it is a little bit different, especially when you have to play away in the Europa League because you can ask to play on Monday night.

“In Italy, usually if you play at home on Thursday you play on Sunday but at 8pm or 9pm. In England it’s more difficult.

“So I think tomorrow we need to change. But I don’t know how many players we will need to change.

“I want to see the training in the afternoon and the last training tomorrow morning.”

On whether Eden Hazard might be rested and Callum Hudson-Odoi could play

“I don’t know. For sure not both Hazard and Odoi (will play). I don’t know at the moment.

“As I said a couple of weeks ago, the period to the second international break is (like) my pre-season, so I would like to see every player in this period.

“Maybe tomorrow it’s time to see Loftus I think. I don’t know about Odoi at the moment.”

On Loftus-Cheek’s recent injury

“He was unlucky in the last three weeks. After the match with the national team he had a problem but in the last five or six days he has been better, so I think he is able to play tomorrow.”

On the pressure on Loftus-Cheek to make it at Chelsea

“The pressure is normal for a player at a high level. He needs to get used to the pressure.

“It’s normal for a player at a high level to have pressure from the club, from newspapers, from television and from the manager.”

On whether he can confirm the club captain

“Not at the moment but I think I will have a meeting with the club at the beginning of next week.”

On whether Cesc Fabregas can play in Jorginho’s role

“Yes I think so. I think he did very well in the last 30 minutes in Greece and very well for 90 minutes against Liverpool.

“He has to improve his physical condition of course, but I think he is a great option in this position.”

On whether that would involve Fabregas changing his game

“Not too much. Cesc is very good at moving the ball – more than Jorginho. We don’t need to change the way of football with Fabregas.”

On Ross Barkley deserving an England recall

Chelsea: Ross Barkley

“I think so, because he is improving week by week and I think he can improve more.

“He has the potential to improve more and so I think he can return in the national team.”

On whether Barkley plays enough to be considered for England

“I think so. In two months he has played more than last season.

“He had a very serious injury a year ago and he can improve from a tactical point of view and a physical point of view.

“He is very good from a technical point of view so I think he can become a great player.”