Antonio Conte spoke about a defender, a midfielder and a striker in his media conference to preview tomorrow’s lunchtime meeting with Leicester.
The first team head coach addressed the press at Cobham and delivered good news regarding the availability of his captain. John Terry is back fit and available, but Conte wouldn’t say if he would start against the champions.
‘Tomorrow I have four central defenders and I have to take three,’ the boss revealed. ‘One must go on the bench.
‘We are finding the best solution to exact all the players’ talents. Against Hull City, we played a good game. Willian, Hazard and Costa played very well and they did what we want.
‘We must continue in this way. It’s right to have a team that is compact but with players that are very offensive and can create many offensive situations.
‘It’s not important if we play with three or four at the back. It’s important to follow the principles we are working on. It was necessary to find a new solution because it’s not right a great team like Chelsea were conceding so many goals.’
Conte had specific words for Willian whose mother sadly passed away earlier this week. The players will wear black armbands in her honour, and to support their teammate, tomorrow.
‘For Willian we are very sad. We knew the problem with his mum. We are very sad, me, the players, the club. We are very close in this moment to our player. Our prayers are with him, and his family.’
Tomorrow’s fixture is a repeat of the EFL Cup tie against the Foxes last month. N’Golo Kante was an unused sub that evening but can expect to start against his former club at the Bridge.
‘He’s an important player,’ Conte said of the Frenchman. ‘We are very pleased to have him with us. He’s a fantastic player. Good stamina, technique, personality.
‘He has brought great will to fight. He’s a very humble man, a humble player. I like him and I like this type of player – that put the team before themselves.’
Claudio Ranieri will be in the away team’s dugout tomorrow and Conte had words of praise for his compatriot, describing him as a ‘very nice man, and above all a good manager’. He added that Ranieri’s many years of experience, which included time at Chelsea earlier this century and as a predecessor of Conte's at Juventus, make him a good mentor.
Conte said the Leicester game presents a big challenge to his team ahead of another that follows against Manchester United next week. He stressed the focus must be on ourselves and not our opponents, however.
That goes for Diego Costa too who is a booking away from serving a one-match suspension.
‘We know the situation. Diego knows the situation. It was the same before the Hull game. We must think to the present, and not to look forward.
‘Tomorrow he must fight in the same way he did in the previous games. I hope he pays attention and doesn’t get another yellow.’