Antonio Conte will welcome some new faces into his squad for the trip to Leicester including, for the first time this season, Eden Hazard.
The Belgian was a major topic of discussion at the manager’s pre-match press conference at Cobham today, as were our new signings Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta, with the boss commenting on them for the first time since the transfer window shut last week.
He had good news to report on the injury front with everyone now available, but as many of the squad have been playing all over the world during the international break he did also acknowledge tiredness would be a factor for some.
Hazard featured in both of Belgium’s games, a decision Conte was in complete agreement with, and he provided an update on our star winger.
‘Eden is available, he is in the squad for the game,’ Conte said.
‘He is improving a lot. He worked very hard to be ready. Now I can count on him, but for sure I have to decide the right moment and the right minutes for him. When there is a bad injury and surgery, it’s normal to pay attention to the recovery.’
Since the manager’s last press conference we signed two new players and Conte gave his verdict on them, starting with Drinkwater, our final signing of the transfer window.
‘We are working with him, and we are trying to get him in the best physical condition. He is a good buy for us, he is working very well and this week he improved his physical condition a lot. He is in the squad for the Leicester game but I don’t know when he will be ready to play.
‘Davide Zappacosta played against Israel for the national team which shows he is in good physical condition,’ Conte added of his compatriot.
‘He worked with me at the national team, he knows my style of football and my ideas very well, and for this reason it is more simple for him to adapt himself to our style.
‘He is a good, young player and he has a lot of space to improve. He makes good runs during the game, he has good quality and he is a wing-back. Usually he prefers to play on the right but sometimes he plays on the left.
‘Davide is ready and very soon you can see his performances. It’s a great chance for him. It’s not easy to play in another country with another type of football, but he has the right characteristics to adapt himself very soon.’
Conte also dismissed speculation regarding Ross Barkley as ‘ridiculous’, and he reiterated that the club had done its best in the transfer market.
Now his attention is fully focused on what happens on the pitch, beginning with tomorrow’s trip to the East Midlands.
‘It was a good moment to stop for the international break,’ Conte explained. ‘It allowed us to recover the players very well - Hazard for example - and then it gave me the possibility to work with players who need to adapt to our style of football.
‘Tomorrow it will be important to start very well, because in September we have seven games in 21 days. You have to analyse every game and try to have a program, a plan in your mind, but it’s important to analyse game by game, because after Leicester I don’t know if there will be injuries or suspensions, and sometimes you have to change your plan.’
And there are reasons why we must be careful tomorrow against the team we inherited our Premier League crown from.
‘I watched Leicester’s previous games this season and I saw a very strong team, a team with great concentration and focus. They lost a game against Arsenal at the end and we must pay great attention because they have players like Vardy, Mahrez, Maguire, and great experience with Morgan and Fuchs.’