Hard work, not 'magic' will fix defence: Conte

LONDON • Antonio Conte has stressed he cannot wave "a magic wand" to solve the defensive issues which have undermined Chelsea's progress this season, with the Italian again without his captain John Terry for today's Premier League game at Hull City.

Terry suffered a setback in his recovery from an ankle ligament injury, having been kicked on the joint in the buildup to last week's emphatic defeat at Arsenal.

That has ruled him out until after the international window, restricting Conte's options at centre back to David Luiz, Gary Cahill and, possibly, Branislav Ivanovic for the game at the KCOM Stadium.

Successive defeats have sapped the momentum from Chelsea's league campaign and left the manager reminding his players of their failings last term in an attempt to prevent a repeat.

"With great work and hard work, we are trying to solve this situation: me, the players, the club, together," he said. "In this situation it's important to understand also that we haven't got a magic wand to change the situation in two, three, four months."

Pre-season relegation favourites Hull posted back-to-back Premier League wins at the start of the campaign, but they have struggled since and are aiming to arrest a slump which has seen them take one point from the last 12.

They have conceded nine goals in their last two games, heavy defeats by Arsenal and Liverpool. They go in search of a first win against Chelsea in almost 28 years, a winless run covering the sides' last 12 meetings.

Uncertainty over caretaker manager Mike Phelan's future and ongoing talks to sell the club have played a part in the downturn in results for the 14th-placed Tigers.

"I'm always confident my future will be resolved." said Phelan yesterday. "My side of things is, we're still talking. (The problem is) it (the terms of the deal) keeps changing. We want to perform and make sure we give them (Chelsea) a good game. We want to be competitive on Saturday."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Hard work, not 'magic' will fix defence: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe