Chelsea boss Antonio Conte confirmed the absence of two key players from the trip to Bournemouth, while also dismissing rumours of his own future at the club
In his pre-match press conference at Cobham, Chelsea’s training ground, the Italian confirmed that N’Golo Kante has returned to training, but will not be fit enough for today. While Victor Moses will definitely miss out, Danny Drinkwater played for an hour against Everton in midweek and may drop back to the bench.
“Our priority is it overcome this period because we are facing it with a lot of problems, I hope to have my players in good physical condition, all players, and then to face all competitions. I hope to do this very soon because Drinkwater is almost ready and Kante is at the stage almost to come back with us. The only problem we have to face, and we need more time with, is Moses.” said the Italian as quoted on the club’s official website
With an eye on the trip to Rome in midweek, the Italian may be tempted to rest other key members of his team. Not expected to be one of them, though, is Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spaniard is in contention for his 71st consecutive league start in a Chelsea shirt, likely replacing Victor Moses in the right wing-back role, with Antonio Rudiger replacing him behind in defence.
Apart from the usual questions about his team for the match, one particular question got Conte riled up. The question was about his future at the club – a follow-up on his previous comments about him wanting to return to Italy, and recent speculation about Carlo Ancelotti replacing him at the helm at Chelsea.
How do you really feel about those reports speculating about your Chelsea future, Antonio Conte? pic.twitter.com/fk3bngs9on
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 27, 2017
Although they did ultimately win against Watford last weekend, it was too close to call for the champions. Their form in the league has been poor – 2 losses in the last 3 – and it may all boil down to the absence of one man – Kante. As adept as he is at tackling, his work-rate and distribution in the middle of the park is what Chelsea are missing at the moment. Tiemoue Bakayoko has been an able-enough replacement, but he is no match for his compatriot in terms of his quality and experience in the league.
“There are players with the same characteristics but N’Golo is a really good player, and he is becoming a top player.” the Chelsea boss said.
Danny Drinkwater, who was brought in to back up the French duo in midfield, has himself been struggling with injury since he signed in late August. The former Premier League winner, however, was back in action in the Carabao Cup in midweek, but is expected to be dropped back to the bench mainly owing to his lack of match fitness.
The hosts Bournemouth also have a few injury concerns to deal with. Ryan Fraser (knock) is ruled out, while Josh King (back) is expected to undergo a late fitness test. The good news, though, is the return of talisman Jermain Defoe from injury. The Englishman will be expected to slot straight back in to the starting eleven, making an already shaky-looking Chelsea defence even more worried.