Eden Hazard suffered a back injury in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United last month and has been unavailable for the team ever since.
Hazard returned to training just this week and had missed Chelsea’s last three fixtures.
The 27-year-old was fit to play against Crystal Palace on Sunday, but he started from the bench, and Maurizio Sarri has revealed why.
“I spoke with the doctor yesterday (on Saturday) and he said he is doing better but he’s not ready to play for 90 minutes,” Sarri told Sky Sports.
“So we decided altogether for the bench. I think it’s very important for us to have him on the bench for the last 30-35 minutes, if necessary.”
Hazard was however needed against the Eagles as he made an immediate impact after coming on with the game gone past the hour mark and with the scores tied at 1-1.
Hazard’s introduction lifted up spirits at Stamford Bridge and his free-kick was a good assist for Alvaro Morata to score.
Chelsea eventually won the game 3-1, with Pedro scoring the third, and Sarri hailed Hazard’s impact at the end of the game.
When asked if Chelsea needed Hazard to beat Palace, Sarri said: “Yes we did!
“We were a little bit in trouble so we needed some quality and personality.
“We were lucky because we had Eden [Hazard] on the bench. He was able to immediately change the match.”