LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Group L match between Chelsea and FC BATE Borisov at Stamford Bridge on October 25, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri feels that Ruben Loftus-Cheek still has work to do on his defensive skills, despite netting a hat-trick against BATE Borisov in the Europa League

The English midfielder was handed a rare start on Thursday and made sure to not waste the opportunity by inspiring Chelsea to a 3-1 win over BATE at Stamford Bridge.

Loftus-Cheek was one of eight changes Sarri made to the starting line-up from the Blues squad that drew 2-2 with Manchester United last Saturday.

And following Loftus-Cheek’s exploits in the Europa League, Sarri is left with a difficult decision on who he starts in midfield for Chelsea’s Premier League clash at Burnley on Sunday.

“He played very well,” Sarri told reporters on the club website.

“I think at the beginning of the season, I thought he was really a very good player. Now I think the same, but maybe he has also adapted to my football.

“He is improving. He needs to improve defensively, but not only Loftus. At this moment we have four midfielders for two positions.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Etihad Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Chelsea assistant compares Sarri’s era to Guardiola’s

According to Gianfranco Zola, the difficult time the Italian manager is having currently with the Blues is just like Guardiola suffered in his first season with Manchester City.

“Three of them with the same characteristics. Only [N’Golo] Kante is a defensive midfielder. It’s very difficult for me to put in the starting XI two so offensive midfielders at the same time.

“I hope to be able to do it in the future. But I need the co-operation of the players, and for them to work on their defensive phase.”

Chelsea top Group L of the Europa League with a comfortable six-point lead over second place side PAOK after just three games.