Hazard 'pushed to play'

Dad Thierry rules out departure in summer and blames Blues for aggravating his injury

LONDON • Eden Hazard's father, Thierry, has insisted that his son's departure from Chelsea this summer is "out of the question" and has suggested the London football club have pushed him to play through the pain barrier as he struggles with an on-going hip complaint.

Hazard, last season's player of the year as Chelsea claimed the Premier League title, has laboured all campaign and has yet to score a goal in the top flight.

Supporters' frustrations with his form boiled over, with a smattering of boos upon his substitution 13 minutes from time on Wednesday night, as Chelsea slipped out of the Champions League with defeat by Paris Saint-Germain. And the Belgian is doubtful for today's awkward FA Cup quarter-final at Everton.

Asked about the deterioration in his son's form, Hazard Sr pointed to the injury problems which have hampered him since the end of last year, when he was kicked by Jamie Vardy in a loss at Leicester City.

"Eden's lack of form is due to an inflammation in the hip, that he's been carrying now for three or four months," Thierry told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir. "It's not a bad injury, but when the pain appears, it feels like a stabbing.

"Instead of giving Eden time to overcome the injury and have a proper rest, they push him to play because they have some important games. So he has no choice.

"Which player hasn't had highs or lows in his career? It's the first time in his professional career that he's confronted with a difficult period. He's not a machine."

PSG and Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for the player, who has a contract at Chelsea till 2020, at the end of the season, especially after the 25-year-old declared his admiration for the French champions.

"Eden has never said he wanted to play for PSG," said Thierry. "He's just confirmed that PSG have become a big club and that every player would like to play for clubs of that level... It's out of question that he'll leave the club at the moment."

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has challenged his team-mates to make amends for their frustrating Champions League exit by booking a place in the FA Cup semi-finals by beating Everton today - as the Cup is the club's last opportunity to win silverware this season.

Everton need a lift, after having thrown away a two-goal lead to lose 2-3 at home to West Ham last Saturday, the fifth time this season that they had failed to win after being two goals in front.

And manager Roberto Martinez, facing increasing scrutiny, could do with a morale-boosting win.He said: "The challenge is to prepare the team for a positive response in the next game. I'm looking at the character we've got in the squad."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'HAZARD 'PUSHED TO PLAY''. Print Edition | Subscribe