Antonio Conte has reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of tomorrow’s game against Stoke City, and the Italian says there is a possibility Eden Hazard could start for the first time in the Premier League this season.
The Blues boss conducted his pre-match press conference in the media room at Stamford Bridge after overseeing the final training session before the squad head north.
Conte provided positive news regarding Tiemoue Bakayoko after the French midfielder was involved in a car accident yesterday.
‘All players are available for tomorrow apart from Drinkwater,’ said Conte. ‘He continues to work to try to recover from his injury.
‘Bakayoko is fit. It was a manual accident but he’s fit and available for the Stoke game.’
Following a question about Diego Costa, after it was announced the club and Atletico Madrid had agreed terms for the transfer of the striker, subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical, Conte thanked the player for his contribution to the Chelsea cause.
‘I think on this issue, we want to thank him for what he did with this club and we wish him all the best for the future,’ he said.
‘Don’t forget, we won together last season. We want to thank him for his efforts last season with us, but not only last season, in the whole period he played for Chelsea.’
Turning his attention towards our trip to the bet365Stadium, where the Blues won 2-1 last season, Conte anticipates a tricky test, and with Hazard having completed the full game against Nottingham Forest in midweek, the Belgian could potentially start.
‘It will be a real tough game,’ Conte added. ‘They won against Arsenal and drew with Manchester United which means they are a really good team. We must pay great attention but we are preparing very well.
‘The most important thing is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be really tough and we must be prepared in the tactical and physical aspect, be disciplined. We are working very well and I’m pleased with the commitment and behaviour of my players. Sometimes red cards can happen, I was a player so I understand this type of situation.
‘I’m pleased for Eden because in the last game he played very well. He played with great intensity. Now he has overcome his injury and we have to play three games so, yes, there is the possibility to pick him.’