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Gonzalo Higuain has been defended by Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri he needs time to return to full match fitness.

The Argentine arrived Stamford Bridge form Juventus last week with high hopes of filling the void in attack as he made his debut against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.

The 30-year-old was also in Sarri's starting line up in the 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth and was substituted after an hour played.

The former Napoli made little or no impression for the Blues which the Italian manager claim is lacking match fitness.

Sarri said: "At the moment, he's not at the very top, physically. In the last 45 days, he played a few matches only.

"Because of his back, but also because of his involvement in the market.

"So he needs to improve because he is able to accelerate more than now.

"Then I think that, if he's able to improve physically, he will be able to be useful for us immediately."

The 59-year-old boss has come under huge criticisms after Chelsea slipped out of the Premier League top-four.

Many claim Sarri lacked backup plans as a major flaw in his managerial philosophy but he has remained resolute in his methods.

Midfielder Jorginho has also come under immense pressure for failing to influence play but Sarri has also stood by his key recruit.

Chelsea are currently on a poor run of form winning just one match from four as they welcome Huddersfield at the weekend before traveling to the Emirates to play Manchester City.

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