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Conte: Tough test awaits

Antonio Conte says the Blues must ensure we are completely focused in order to overcome a Southampton side who will pose a big threat given the pace and quality of their attacking players.

The Italian was speaking to the media ahead of our third league game in the space of eight days, and we go into the fixture with Mauricio Pellegrino’s side in good shape having produced an impressive performance away at Huddersfield in midweek.

Conte began the press conference by providing an update on the fitness of David Luiz, who has not featured since the Champions League game in Qarabag last month and has inflammation in his knee.

'We are trying to sort the situation with the doctor,’ said the Blues boss. ‘It’s important to assess the situation day by day and to try to solve the problem.

‘I don’t know when he will be able to come back with us but, for sure, with the doctor and medical department we are trying to sort the situation.

‘The player is working apart and in the last few days he was in the pool. Today I saw him on the pitch trying to run a bit, but very slowly.

‘Every player is frustrated when they don’t play, especially when they have an injury. For sure there is a lot of frustration about the injury because every player wants the training sessions and the chance to give the coach difficulty in his choices. I understand because I was a player, when I was injured I felt very bad and sad because you want to be available for the session, to be in contention for the competition, but injuries are part of the job.’

Conte was able to provide more positive news regarding Alvaro Morata after the striker missed the trip to Huddersfield with a back problem.

‘He’s better,’ said Conte. ‘He trained with us two days ago, again yesterday and also today. He has this pain in his back but he’s in contention for tomorrow’s game.’

After it was revealed Morata has been studying video footage of club legend Didier Drogba, Conte spoke about their qualities as players.

‘They are two different players with different characteristics,’ he said. ‘Didier Drogba brought history to this club and he’s a wonderful player, a wonderful striker because he continues to play.

‘He’s a great striker, more powerful than Alvaro but Alvaro, don’t forget, has a lot of space for improvement. He’s strong physically, he’s a technical player and I see a great future for Alvaro.'

Matches against Southampton in recent years have traditionally been tight encounters regardless of whether we are playing at home or away.

Our opponents currently lie 11th in the table, but the fact they were beaten 4-1 at home by Leicester on Wednesday makes tomorrow’s game even trickier, according to Conte.

‘For sure tomorrow the game will be very difficult for us because Southampton are a really good team, they have young players with a great future,’ the Italian explained.

‘I would prefer Southampton to have won their game against Leicester than lose in that way at home. I heard the post-match interview from Pellegrino and we must pay great attention. They are very fast and play well on the counter attack with (Charlie) Austin, (Nathan) Redmond and (Dusan) Tadic. They have a lot of good players, (Shane) Long and (Sofiane) Boufal as well.

‘My expectation is for us to suffer, I have this sensation, so we must pay great attention. When you play after a bad defeat, especially at home, there is great attention of the coach and the club because they don’t want to continue a bad run. They want to give a good answer against a strong team like Chelsea.’