Which fringe players could get a start in the Europa League

Although it’s sad to say, the Europa League offers an opportunity for Maurizio Sarri to rotate his squad.

Europe’s second tier competition has such a quality difference between teams and creates such a gruelling schedule that managers often rest key players.

Chelsea – Champions League and Europa League winner – have been drawn in a group with PAOK, BATE Borisov and Hungarian newcomers, Mol Vidi.

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Sarri will be keen to maintain momentum in the Premier League though, having made the perfect start.


His side has won its opening five games, and have a tough trip to the London Stadium to face West Ham on the horizon.

So Sarri may decide to hand some fringe players a start in their upcoming Europa League tie at PAOK.

Barkley to start?

Mateo Kovacic limped off just after half-time in Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Cardiff City on Saturday.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

And although Sarri confirmed it wasn’t anything serious, Ross Barkley should get the start in his place.

The former Everton man has played a fair amount this season – mostly off the bench however.

But he should start in place of the Croatian and will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity.

Centre-back rotation?

Chelsea’s defensive weaknesses have been evident this year.

David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger have played every game in the league so far this season, but have looked shaky at times.

(Photo by Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Despite that, Sarri seems set that they are his favoured pairing, but may be rested on Tuesday.

And Chelsea have a few players itching for a start, with Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill likely to get a run-out.

Stars rested?

Eden Hazard, Jorginho and Marcos Alonso have all made excellent starts to the season.

But they could stay in East London as the Chelsea team travels to Thessaloniki for some well-earned rest.

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Willian and Emerson Palmieri will be eyeing a start in their absence.