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Conte: Character the key

Antonio Conte says he will wait to make a decision on whether or not N’Golo Kante plays against Manchester United on Sunday.

The Blues boss spoke to the media at Cobham earlier this afternoon and addressed a number of subjects, including the importance of showing character in tough moments and Sunday’s game itself.

Firstly, he was asked if Kante, who hasn’t featured for the Blues since our game against Manchester City at the end of September, would be available for selection.

‘N’Golo is progressing well, we also have tomorrow and then I’ll take the best decision for him and the team,’ said Conte. ‘But for sure he’s progressing well and I’m very happy about this. We are talking about an important player.

‘If I wanted to risk him I could have done it against Bournemouth or Roma. Instead I waited, I had a lot of patience to find the best way and it means if I decide to put him in the team and start the game he will be ready.’

Conte, who said Gary Cahill will start on Sunday, also provided an update on the fitness of Victor Moses.

‘No, zero chance,’ he responded, when asked if the wing-back could feature against United. ‘It was a bad muscular problem. We must wait and have patience, he needs more time to recover.’

Reflecting on the disappointment of the midweek defeat to Roma, Conte explained why we need to react in a positive way on Sunday.

‘Honestly, I think the second half against Roma was bad in many different aspects but sometimes it can happen,’ he said. ‘The most important thing is that you don’t see this type of situation again.

‘We played a really good first half and we were 2-0 down, but I was more worried in the match against them at Stamford Bridge when we were winning 2-1 because we didn’t have control of the game.

‘I was confident about the second half [on Tuesday] and it was very negative. But that’s the past and now we must prepare for the game against Man United and do our best on Sunday.

‘I’m happy to work with my players because their commitment is always good, but this season we are struggling because we are facing a lot of important problems, and to solve them is not simple.

‘But in this moment you can see if you are a winner or a loser, that’s very important. When the period is positive it’s very easy to play well and have confidence. When you are struggling it’s important to show character, be strong and face the problem in the right way. But in my life I’m used to doing this. I struggled a lot in my life as a player and then as a coach. My history shows this.’

Conte revealed he spoke to Roman Abramovich last Sunday at Cobham about the previous day’s win over Bournemouth, before explaining why he believes we will need to be at our best in order to overcome United on Sunday.

‘We are talking about a really good team, a strong team physically and it will be a very difficult game,’ he explained. ‘They are an important team and we must pay great attention. We are working to prepare for the game in the right way but United are a really good team.

‘When you play against United, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham it’s always a big game. This type of game must excite the players, to play in a fantastic atmosphere and to know a lot of people will watch the game around the world.’

It's been a positive week for two of our players currently out on loan in the Premier League as both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham were called up to the senior England squad for the first time ahead of their upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

Conte believes they are benefiting from regular involvement at first-team level.

‘I think these players are having the right path and development,’ he said. ‘It’s very important for them to play regularly and to show they are ready to be Chelsea players.

‘Don’t forget, the pressure is totally different if you play for a team in the relegation zone compared to a team fighting for something important, but I’m very happy they are doing well.’


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