The headline news from Antonio Conte’s press conference today regarded injuries, with three players unavailable for tomorrow’s match, but the boss said he is ready to work around the absences as the fixtures come thick and fast again.
It has been nearly a fortnight since the Blues were last in action as international football took centre stage, and it was while representing his country France that N’Golo Kante got injured. Alvaro Morata went off against Manchester City, and Danny Drinkwater’s calf problem dates back to earlier in September. Conte provided an update on all three.
‘Team news? Bad news! As you know we have three injured players,’ the boss reported at Cobham ahead of the trip to Crystal Palace.
‘Morata - I hope to have him back very soon, for the next game against Roma. Drinkwater is progressing well but is not ready yet. We must have patience with him, with his calf problem.
‘The last is Kante. We are going to do a scan next week to check his situation to see if he is improving. For sure it is a muscular problem, a hamstring problem. This is a big loss for us. You know very well the importance of N’Golo Kante in our team. We don’t have another player with the same characteristics.
‘We were not lucky in this period above all in midfield. We have only Bakayoko and Fabregas available.
‘We have to approach seven games in one month and we have to find different solutions in this period: to adapt some defenders in midfield, or give opportunities to young players like [Kyle] Scott or [Ethan] Ampadu.’
Asked how long he thought Kante would be out for, Conte responded: ‘[From] the previous scan maybe around 20, 25 days, but in this situation you must pay great attention.
‘For this reason, we are going to do another scan after one week to understand the situation very well, and see if this scan is better than the scan before.’
Conte then discussed his own future after media rumours surfaced recently saying he wished to return to his homeland at the end of the season. At Cobham today he quashed those rumours.
‘For two weeks I am reading wrong things. I did an interview two weeks ago and I am sure the translation was wrong.
‘In the interview I only said that one day, in the future, I would like to go back to Italy. One day, in the future.
‘But I know very well my position. I have two years contract with Chelsea to go, I am happy to work for this club, I am happy to work with my players, I like working with my players. I like to have this great feeling with our supporters. I don’t see problems.
‘Another situation I want to clarify is that my family stays here with me, not in Italy. My daughter is going to the school here, in Cobham. When you want to write something, it’s important to write the truth. My family stay here, not in Italy.’
Conte spoke about his compatriot Andrea Pirlo, who announced his retirement recently. He said he didn’t know the midfielder’s plan afterwards when asked if he could possibly join the coaching staff at Chelsea.
Conte also said he had talked to Charly Musonda after an Instagram post the Belgian put up earlier this week alluding to a lack of playing time.
‘Charly understood his mistake. He has to continue to work very hard to improve himself. He is working very well. I don’t see a problem with him.
‘His mind must be focused on the pitch, not on social media. I said this to him. My task is to help him find the right way, not the wrong way.
‘We must be focused on the present with him. He is a talented player, he has really good prospects of becoming an important player for Chelsea. I am sure about this.
‘Also this season he could have a good opportunity to play. We have only three no.10s – Hazard, Willian and Pedro – and usually two play. This season he could show he deserves to play.’