Football: Chelsea exit just a rumour: Conte

France's N'Golo Kante winning the ball from Bulgaria's Georgi Kostadinov during their World Cup qualifier last Saturday. The Chelsea dynamo suffered a hamstring injury during the 1-0 away win.
France's N'Golo Kante winning the ball from Bulgaria's Georgi Kostadinov during their World Cup qualifier last Saturday. The Chelsea dynamo suffered a hamstring injury during the 1-0 away win.PHOTO: REUTERS

Hamstrung Kante faces 3 weeks out, leaving Blues short on options with fixtures piling up

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has refuted talk from British media earlier this month that he is prepared to leave the Blues after this season, and also dismissed rumours that he has instructed his advisers to find him an Italian club.

Speaking to the press ahead of today's Premier League visit to Crystal Palace, the Italian said: "I did an interview two weeks ago and the translation was wrong.

"All I said was that one day in the future, I would like to go back to Italy. But you know my position. I have (a) two-year contract with Chelsea and am happy to work for this club and with my players. I like to have this great feeling with our fans.

"My family stay here with me, not in Italy. My daughter goes to school here. It is important to write the truth.

"Every coach, when they start, they work with the club and hope they will stay for a long time, and build something important."

The 48-year-old added that France midfielder N'Golo Kante will be sidelined for three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on international duty.

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Kante was forced off in the first half of France's World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria last weekend and Conte expects him to be out for the rest of this month.

"Kante is going to do another scan next week to check if his situation is improving. From the previous scan, maybe he will be out for around 20 or 21 days," Conte said.

Kante, who won the PFA Player of the Year award last season, could miss a total of six fixtures this month.

That would include two Champions League dates with Roma, Premier League matches against Watford and Bournemouth, and a League Cup tie against Everton.

Conte admitted Kante's absence is a big blow with Chelsea heading into a busy period, especially as England midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who was signed from Leicester in August, is also injured at present.

"Danny is progressing well but is not ready yet. We must have patience with his calf problem. We may have to adapt some defenders into midfielders," he said.

Fourth-placed Chelsea are six points behind Manchester City after the champions lost 1-0 at home to the Premier League leaders in their last match before the international break.

Adding to Conte's injury woes, Spain striker Alvaro Morata will miss the Palace match with a hamstring injury suffered against City.

Morata did not play for Spain over the last fortnight, but Conte hopes he will return to face Roma at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

New Palace manager Roy Hodgson insisted he has faith in his team and that his players are working as hard as they can to get off the mark in the Premier League this season.

The Eagles are rooted at the bottom of the table with no points - and no goals - in their seven matches so far.

"From day one, the players have been up for the fight," Hodgson said in his pre-match conference as reported on Sky Sports.

"We need to operate better as a unit - training-ground work helps that."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Chelsea exit just a rumour: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe