Alexandre Pato will have to compete with youngster Bertrand Traore as well as the in-form Diego Costa for first-team opportunities at Chelsea when he regains full fitness, interim manager Guus Hiddink has warned.
Pato has not played a minute for Chelsea since joining on loan from Corinthians at the end of January, as he undergoes what Hiddink has described as a "preseason" fitness regime of double sessions to get him back into peak physical condition.
Traore, meanwhile, has taken advantage of Pato's unavailability -- coupled with the persistent injury problems affecting Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy -- to establish himself as Hiddink's most trusted alternative to first-choice striker Costa, scoring on each of his last three substitute appearances.
Hiddink admits he is impressed with Traore's progression and says Pato will have no easy path to his first-team plans as he approaches full fitness.
"Pato has now to get his sharpness to be competitive with the youngsters we have, because we have three strikers available, plus Falcao who is injured," Hiddink said.
"Diego [Costa] is doing his job very well and I'm rather satisfied with Traore's performances in the games when he's come in, especially being a youngster with no big international name. They have to compete for the positions."
Another youngster who has impressed Hiddink in the wake of injuries to more established names is Baba Rahman.
"I saw him in training before we made the reshuffle in defence and you could see he has quality," Hiddink said of Rahman. "From nature he knows how to play when he's on the ball and we're working to get him even more competitive in the position.
"We have little things to improve with him, but he's done okay so far."