Antonio Conte says he has tough decisions to make about which attacking players start Sunday’s Premier League game against Hull City.
The Italian has Diego Costa available for selection once again after he missed last week’s 3-0 win at Leicester, and with Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro performing so well at the King Power Stadium, Conte is yet to decide his starting line-up.
Speaking to the media at Cobham, he joked his sleep had suffered this week as he tried to figure out the best solution.
‘To make a decision is not easy because I have four or five players who are very strong in that position,’ he said. ‘They are in good form and they give me different options. I’m pleased about this because when you have many players to choose from it’s good. I’ve been sleeping less so I make the best decision but that’s my task, to pick the best players game by game.
‘I have to pick three players and if someone misses out it’s not a punishment, only because at that moment I like to make choices based on the game and the opponent, that’s very important to me.’
Conte was asked about the fitness and availability of Diego Costa, and provided a positive update for Chelsea supporters.
'Yes, he’s available for the game against Hull,' said Conte. 'He started training on Tuesday with the team and he trained very well. He doesn’t have the pain in his back so for this reason he’s available for the game.
'On Sunday and Monday Diego was training so he could work with the team on Tuesday. He trained with a fitness coach, not alone. It’s important to know this. He started training very well to come back on Tuesday. He did that to prepare his body to have a good session on Tuesday.
'Diego is an important player for us, we all know this. When he stays in good form he’s always great.'
Conte refused to confirm whether or not the striker would start Sunday’s game but, if involved, it will be Diego Costa’s 100th Chelsea appearance.
‘That’s a great achievement for him,’ said the Italian. ‘To play 100 times for the same team is great and I hope to celebrate it with a win.
‘The player wants to stay at Chelsea, he’s very happy to play with us. This idea (leaving) is far in his mind, he’s happy to stay here and that’s the most important thing for us. I don’t see any problem with him.
‘It’s important we face the next four months in a very strong way, focus on the present and not look too far ahead. Diego is a good player, a good person and now he’s only focused on Chelsea, playing with us and continuing to help us. He only missed one game, I’m sure about his commitment and his will to fight for this team until the end to try to win the title.
The Blues have lost just one game at home all season, against Liverpool in September, but Conte spoke about the importance of remaining fully focused against Hull, particularly given the fact they recently changed manager, with Portuguese Marco Silva now at the helm.
‘Our challenge is to keep the right concentration and to think this type of game is very important for the table if you take three points,’ Conte said.
‘We have to focus on our target because if you think it will be easy you make a big mistake and you can pay for that at the end of the season. Hull City are a good team, they won their last game against Bournemouth. They changed their coach and usually when you do that there is a great reaction from the players.’