Chelsea coach Antonio Conte surprised by Eden Hazard Belgium call

LONDON -- Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has said he was "a bit surprised" by Belgium's decision to call up Eden Hazard, warning that it would be "a great mistake" to rush the winger back into action.

Hazard missed Chelsea's preseason with a broken ankle sustained on international duty in June and has not featured in either of the Blues' first two Premier League matches.

He returned to full training last week and Conte said he would take the next step his recovery by featuring for the under-23 team against Everton on Friday.

Asked about Belgium boss Roberto Martinez' decision to call up Hazard, Conte told a news conference: "I knew the news just 20 minutes ago. For sure, I'm a bit surprised about this decision.

"I don't think he can [play]. If Hazard is ready, why doesn't he play with us? Why is he playing this afternoon with the U23s to continue to try and improve his form?

"I see him every day, and I repeat: in this situation, it's very important to give the right time to players to recover very well.

"Hazard is an important player for us. If someone thinks to accelerate the process... I think it's not the right way. It's a great mistake."

Conte said he had not spoken to Martinez about Hazard, but added: "I was a coach in the national team with Italy. I respect the decision of the other coach."

Hazard is the only Chelsea player significantly short of full fitness ahead of the visit of Everton on Sunday.

Tiemoue Bakayoko could keep his place after an encouraging debut in the win at Tottenham, while Cesc Fabregas returns after suspension.

Conte said Chelsea's run of seven fixtures in the final three weeks of September after the international break would test his squad.

"First of all, I hope after the international break to have the whole team [available]," he said.

"Then we are going to play seven games in a month, and I need to rotate the players. If someone is thinking that I can use only 11 players or 13 players, it's impossible. But we must be ready to face this situation."

Asked whether new signings before the transfer deadline would help, Conte added: "For sure, the club is trying to strengthen our squad and our team.

"They are working very hard to do this, but you know very well the situation. We have to continue to work. Also, if we continue to stay with these players, I'm very happy."

Asked about the potential departure of young wing-back Kenedy, who has been linked with a loan move to Newcastle, Conte said: "In this case, for now, it's important to wait, because we are in the market to try to improve our squad, that means we need players, not to sell."

The Football Association announced on Friday afternoon that Kenedy had been issued with a warning regarding social media posts he published during Chelsea's preseason tour of China. The warning will stay on his record and a similar offence in the future will trigger a charge.