Antonio Conte says preparations for tomorrow’s game against Bournemouth have been made harder by the fact the January transfer window closes on the same day.
The boss was speaking to the media at Cobham for the final time before a game this month, and understandably much of the questioning revolved around potential ins and outs. It is something Conte admitted he has grown tired of speaking about, and he regularly repeated his stance that he finds it disrespectful discussing other teams and their players.
One man he was prepared to comment on is Michy Batshuayi. The striker has been linked with a move away before the window closes, but Conte revealed he will be involved against Bournemouth unless the situation changes.
‘He’s in contention for tomorrow’s game,’ Conte said.
‘Now he’s a Chelsea player and for this reason he’s in contention for tomorrow’s game, and also because I have Morata who is injured. I don’t have options, especially because Willian is also injured.
‘Today Batshuayi trained well and I have prepared the game with him. You don’t know what will happen tonight or tomorrow, but we must be ready to face every situation.’
Joining Morata and Willian on the treatment table is David Luiz, who will need a bit of time to recover having picked up an ankle injury a couple of days before the Newcastle cup-tie. But Thibaut Courtois and Cesc Fabregas are fully recovered now from their respective knocks.
We take on a team unbeaten in five league games who haven’t played in a week-and-a-half. They are two of the reasons Conte expects the Cherries’ visit to be a tough one.
‘Tomorrow is a big challenge for us. The transfer market period is finishing, and for many reasons you can have distractions. But I am very happy because I have players with great focus. Today the training, and the commitment and behaviour of my players, was positive.
‘Then we have to face our injury problems. To miss Morata and Willian, and to have Batshuayi’s situation in balance, makes it not easy to prepare, but no excuses, no alibi.
‘We want to get three points against a team who has rested for 10 days. Instead we have had to play every three days. For this reason, the game won’t be easy for us.
‘For sure it’s not the best situation to prepare a league game, but there are these types of situations you must be prepared to face. I ask all my players to be focused on the game, and on our target, which is to play a good game and try and get three points.’
Conte said fielding similar transfer-related questions from journalists every three days was a ‘little bit frustrating’, so he will no doubt be glad when it is all over on Thursday. The boss had stronger words about the simultaneous timing of tomorrow’s game and the final few hours of the transfer window being open.
‘It’s not right to have a match when there is the deadline of the transfer market. You can have this situation where [players] are doing half and half.
‘Whoever decides the future should reflect a bit before preparing this. There are many coaches who don’t like to have a game when there is the deadline of the transfer window.’