Conte: Speeding up

Antonio Conte spoke about a number of his midfielders at his press conference today as well as what his team need to do to stay in the race for the top four.

Crystal Palace are the visitors to Stamford Bridge tomorrow and the boss was pleased to report that N’Golo Kante is fit and healthy again having missed the Manchester City game. Conte went on to speak about Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko, as well as a Chelsea great who was back at Cobham this week, but he first provided the latest news on Kante when he addressed the media at our training ground.

‘N’Golo is fine,’ Conte said. ‘He trained the whole week. He’s in good form.

‘Last week on Friday it was very cold, and after the training session he briefly passed out in the dressing room. After this situation, the doctor gave him many check-ups to understand his physical condition. It was all clear. On Sunday he was well, but at the same time it was right to not take a risk and give him the opportunity to rest. He’s okay. Every check-up has been okay.

David Luiz is injured, and also Barkley, and then I have to check a couple of situations,’ Conte responded when asked if he had any other injury concerns.

‘We must have great patience with Barkley. After a bad injury, and surgery in the muscles and the tendons, it’s not simple when you have been out for seven months to recover quickly. The player and I must have patience.’

That same virtue could be important against the Eagles tomorrow. They have proven stubborn opposition against other teams competing for a place in the top four recently, and Conte considered what needs to be done to beat a side he is surprised to see in such a lowly position.

‘They lost the last couple of games and they deserved more against Tottenham and United. We must pay great attention. We need to have a good performance and get three points, but we must know we are playing against a very good team with talented players.

‘Our confidence is normal. When you lose many games in a row it’s not simple for your confidence. We are working very well, like always, and tomorrow we will see the performance and if we are good enough to get three points.

‘The teams ahead of us are going with great velocity,’ added Conte. ‘It’s important for us to not drop points in any games, and then in the future try to exploit the games we have to play against them at home.’

When it comes to what team he picks tomorrow, Conte said starting with one of his strikers is certainly an option, and he trusts both of them to perform well if called upon.

Another player Conte suggested could feature again after injury is Bakayoko.

‘If there can be a positive aspect from his injury, it is that he has had a lot of time to process the bad performance against Watford. Now he has been training with us for one week. His physical condition is not bad. Don’t forget Baka is only 23. He is a really young player.

‘This season we are also paying a bit for a lack of experience in many of our players, but Baka has the right personality to become an important player for Chelsea, I hope in the present but for sure in the future.’

Conte also had words for a very important player from our past, John Terry, who visited our training ground on Thursday to catch up with his former colleagues.

‘For John, Chelsea is his home,’ Conte said. ‘He can come when he wants. The door is always open for him, and for the players who wrote the history of this club.

‘For me, it’s always a pleasure to see him and have a chat with him. It’s right also for the players to see again their old captain.’