Antonio Conte is confident his players are in good shape to shake off the after effects of their big win at Wembley and meet the challenge of facing Southampton when the Premier League title race resumes tomorrow.
The boss was talking at his media conference on Monday afternoon ahead of Tuesday evening’s game and he was able to report Gary Cahill may be available for selection. The defender missed Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final following illness last week.
‘Gary yesterday he trained with us and also today,’ Conte said. ‘It is normal to check his condition and I want to speak very well with him tomorrow before I take the decision. I am very happy if he is able to pay tomorrow but also I want to underline Nathan Ake’s performance [against Spurs}. I was pleased for his performance. He played a really good game and he is very important for us.’
Conte confirmed he has no new injury or illness concerns following the win over Tottenham, and although he said he expects every player to want to play every game, he described Eden Hazard and Diego Costa’s reaction to learning they would not start at Wembley as good and normal. He has yet to decide for certain whether they go straight back into the starting line-up.
‘I have another day to decide our best 11 but they are in good condition and in good form, and for sure tomorrow I hope to see a good performance from all my players.
‘When you have to play this type of game, it is very important to try to find the best solution, to give the right balance in our squad to play these games in these few days. I have in my mind the starting 11 but tomorrow I want to check very well the physical consideration of every single player as our last game was an intense one and used energy. But we have trained very well this season and we have a lot of energy to face this type situation,’ Conte added. On the subject of playing before Tottenham this week he said:
‘It is important for us to win and look at ourselves, but we all know that tomorrow it won’t be easy because Southampton is a very good team with a good coach and good players.’
One of those is striker Manolo Gabbiadini whom Conte knows very well from the national team.
‘He is a really talented player with a fantastic left foot, one of the best in the world because it is amazing the way he kicks the ball. We must pay great attention and for sure I have to talk with my players, and my goalkeeper coach has started to talk with the goalkeepers to give advice about this player, but also Tadic is a great talent, Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Bertrand…They have a lot of good players.’