Blues skipper Cahill: Champions League is where Chelsea belong

Striker Alvaro Morata, signed from Real Madrid in the summer, may also be benched, says Conte.

It meant back-to-back Premier League medals for the 26 year-old, who starred in Leicester City's unlikely march to glory in 2015-2016.

Chelsea are in action again on Tuesday night at home to Qarabag and Hazard could get another run-out in their opening Champions League group game. Now I think he is a top player.

The Azerbaijani champions went in heavy favourites to their game versus Gabala, and they did exactly what they had to do.

And although he has found his feet relatively quickly, he admits that it has not been easy for him to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, as well as a whole new life in England.

"When you make the decision (on selection) there is always the risk. To play seven games in 21 days is not easy", he said.

Morata added that it was important to collect three points at the 2016 Premier League champions.

Conte's counterpart, Gurbanov, is more than happy to ignore the bigger picture and has urged his underdogs to play without fear, via ESPN.

While Chelsea are the heavy favourites, will Qarabag cause them some trouble?

'I feel like my season's just starting, ' the England defender said.

Last season Cahill, along with his Chelsea team mates, had to watch the Champions League from the sofa after failing to qualify when they finished a woeful 10th the season before. They are also the last English club to win the competition (2012).

It is Chelsea's 15th time competing in the Champions League group stage. Thanks to Manchester United's triumph in the Europa League last season.

Qarabag, known as the "Caucasian Barcelona", battled into the group stage with wins over Georgian side Samtredia, Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol and Danish title-holders Copenhagen.

Qarabag are the only team, alongside RB Leipzig, to make their Champions League debut this season. It's the first time they're playing this competition.

"I trust all my players in the squad".

The calibre of domestic opposition means it is hard to rest players and prioritise the Champions League, Conte says.

Both teams have made ideal starts to their respective league campaigns so this should be a fascinating encounter. His best performance was in 2012/13 when he reached the quarter-finals with Juventus.

  • Julie Sanders