Conte wants backing from Chelsea amid exit talk

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Antonio Conte Photo: Reuters

Ed Elliott

Antonio Conte has called for public backing from Chelsea in order to quash constant speculation about his future as manager.

The Italian won the Premier League title in his first year in England but there have been persistent rumours about his job being under threat this season due to the Blues' indifferent form.

Conte - who was last week linked with a return to managing the Italy national team - has repeatedly expressed his desire to honour the remaining 18 months of his contract.

He would now like a public vote of confidence from his employers to help silence talk of him departing Stamford Bridge.

"Maybe I'd like that the club prepare a statement for me to tell (the media), 'I trust in his job, I trust in his work'," said Conte, ahead of tonight's trip to Watford.

"But at the same time I know that in the past it never happened, this, and for this reason why would I hope for something different?

"For sure, I think that I'd like to have a statement to support against this speculation."

Chelsea have failed to mount a defence of their title and travel to Vicarage Road 19 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City following last Wednesday's humiliating 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth.

After losing to Arsenal in the semi-finals of the League Cup, their only hopes of silverware come in the Champions League and the FA Cup, while they face a fight to secure a top-four league finish. The Blues face a tricky two-legged tie against LaLiga leaders Barcelona in the second round of the European competition, while Hull are their fifth-round opponents in the domestic cup.

In spite of struggles on the pitch and him reportedly being under pressure, Conte said he would welcome talks about extending his contract with the London club. "I'm giving all of myself, me and my staff and also my players, for this club," he said.

"And then I think that we are doing the maximum for this club and if the club understands this and the club wants to extend a new contract then we can talk, why not?

"My contract expires in 2019 and my decision is to continue to work with this club."

Conte could give debuts to new signings Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmieri against the Hornets, although neither player is expected to start as they are short of fitness due to recent injuries.

Brazilian duo David Luiz and Willian may return following their injury problems, but centre-back Andreas Christensen (hamstring) and striker Alvaro Morata (back) will be unavailable.