Eden Hazard is disputing Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's assertion that the attacking midfielder is due a rest, the 23-year-old insisting that he plays consistently better when fed a steady diet of action.
"I don't need rest, as I've said before, I'm at my best if I can play a lot of matches. But I must be aware that I don't let myself burn out," the Belgian international told the country's daily Het Laatste Nieuws in an interview published on Wednesday.
"I'm in a good rhythm, I'm getting a lot of game time. I did feel a little down in the first half against Fulham but it went much better in the second half," he said of Saturday's 3-1 win in the London derby which saw Chelsea move four points clear at the top of the Premier league.
Before the match, Mourinho had told reporters he was hoping Hazard would not play in the midweek international, a World Cup warm-up against the Ivory Coast in Brussels later on Wednesday.
"He (Hazard) needs a rest," the Chelsea manager said last Friday.
"It'd be perfect if his national coach did not play him.
"He can not have a rest in the club. In the national team he doesn't have to play friendly matches.
"He needs a rest and they could give him a rest. It's important for us and I prefer him on the pitch even if he's tired because I know he can produce things."
Hazard would not start for Belgium against the Ivorians but was expecting to come on from the bench, he said.
"I spoke to the coach (Marc Wilmots) about it and we will see how long I will play. He understands the situation, he's not stupid. He knows I'm playing a lot."
Hazard told the Belgian daily he was in the best form of his career.
"That shows in the statistics and in the succession of matches in which I've played well. In my last season at Lille, I also had a good run, similar to now. I hope it will continue and that I will profit with both Belgium as well as Chelsea."
Hazard said his relationship with Mourinho was also going well.
"I find we have a normal relationship. If there are things to be said, he says them. If you are playing well, he says so. But if you are not, you also get to hear about it," he added.
"I prefer it if people say things to my face. He might be called the 'Special One' but to me he is the 'Normal One'."
Image: Eden Hazard and Jose Mourinho
Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images