Antonio Conte says we have no fresh injury concerns ahead of tomorrow’s game against Stoke, and the Italian hopes to have both David Luiz and Charly Musonda available for next weekend’s FA Cup tie at Norwich.
The Blues boss spoke to the media at Cobham this afternoon, looking ahead to our second home game in a week against Mark Hughes's side.
Firstly, he was asked to provide an update on player availability and Conte indicated he will make some changes to the side which started against Brighton on Boxing Day.
‘There is no news,’ he said. ‘All the players are available. The same players from the last game are available. Musonda and David Luiz are improving a lot, their recovery is very close. I’m not sure about the next game but for sure against Norwich they will be available.
‘Tomorrow we have a game which is very difficult against Stoke City. Last season, at the same time of year, we suffered a lot to beat them at home. I remember the game very well and we must pay great attention.
‘We must go game by game and it’s normal when you play every few days to make rotation and give some rest to those who have been playing every game. At the same time, all my players deserve credit, I trust in all of my players and it doesn’t matter if there are changes to the starting 11.’
The Blues are currently on an impressive run of form having lost just once in our last 12 Premier League matches.
Tuesday’s win over Brighton, coupled with Manchester United’s draw against Burnley, means we are now just one point behind the Red Devils and well placed to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
‘In this league to finish in the top four is always a success,’ said Conte. ‘This is the only league with six top teams fighting for the title every season.
‘There are only four places for the Champions League and two for the Europa League, so you have to fight. When your competitior is doing so well, like Man City, it’s difficult to fight for the title until the end, but we must give everything, try to get three points in every game and improve our work.’
With the transfer window set to open on Monday, Conte also discussed the possibility of players coming in to the club ahead of the second half of the campaign.
‘I think this window could be important if we are able to find the right players, otherwise we continue to work with these players and I’m very happy to work with them,’ he said.
‘For sure, the club will try to do their best in the market to improve the squad from a numerical aspect. I’m a coach, I have to work with my players and my task is on the pitch. The transfer market is for the club and they must decide if they want to improve my squad.’
One player Conte did speak about on an individual level was Baba Rahman, our Ghanaian left-back who is currently recovering from a serious injury which he sustained while playing in the Africa Cup of Nations almost a year ago.
‘This player is coming back from a bad injury and he’s struggling a bit to recover the best form,’ Conte said. ‘I must be honest, I don’t know what will happen with Baba. From a human aspect, I’d like to give him an opportunity to come back strong like before.
‘Now he has to face his recovery. He’s showing great patience because he’s struggling a lot. If I can help him I’m ready to help him because there is the player, and then there is the human aspect. For him it’s good to stay here and recover.’
The Megastore sale at Stamford Bridge must end soon!
The savings of up to 40 per cent across a range of products in-store still apply, plus an additional 10 per cent.