Tuesday 22 January 2019

Conte dismisses claims that players are over-worked

Conte: "When you play every three days, it’s impossible to give intensity in these two days between one game and another." Photo: Reuters/Tony O'Brien

Miguel Delaney

Antonio Conte has defended himself from accusations of over-working his players, pointing to Chelsea's relatively low number of injuries.

The Italian has another selection issue for tonight's match against Watford tonight as he faces another game without a fit striker due to Alvaro Morata's absence and the fact new signing Olivier Giroud isn't yet ready.

Conte, said that just illustrates the squad isn't big enough for the number of fixtures they have had, and that he has changed his training plans.

Chelsea currently have four players out and only eight of the 19 other Premier League clubs have more absentees.

"If you compare to the other clubs, we have fewer injuries," Conte argued.

"The only problem is that, this season, we are playing a lot and our squad wasn't big enough to give them the right rest. We are working less, less than last season. A lot less.

"But, for sure, you have to change your plan, your work. When you play every three days, it's impossible to give intensity in these two days between one game and another.

"Sometimes, when I had the possibility, I tried to give the opportunity... a little window of work for the players I decided to rest. But, in this country, with a lot of competitions - four competitions, and with the intensity of every game - you have to face a season with a big squad. This is very, very important.

"I think it's very important to try to understand and find the best solution for the future."

With Chelsea lying in third place, 18 points off Manchester City, Conte was asked how many years it would take to get Chelsea back to the top.

"I don't know this. Also because you can see the other teams are working very hard, very strong to improve their squads. It's not simple, not simple. I think a club like Chelsea must have more patience than other teams.

"If you compare it to the past, the situation has totally changed. Yes. But especially for this reason, you have to understand that only through great work, big work, can you go and try to be closer to these teams who maybe don't have this type of financial problems.

"In this case, the value of the coach is important. We have a lot of young players. Our average age is very low now, don't forget.

"Whoever knows football understands very well that, now, we need a lot of patience, to understand a new situation and not complain, but only be realistic. And be strong and to work, work, work. Only through work can you solve problems. Not by complaining or just by buying. (© Independent News Service)

Watford v Chelsea

Live Sky Sports 8.0

Watford (11) v Chelsea (4)

Injury-hit Watford will be without goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes again, while Chelsea must plan without Alvaro Morata and Andreas Christensen.

Last five league matches: Watford LLDLD; Chelsea WDDWL

Match odds: H 5-1, A 4-7, D 3-1

Ref: Craig Pawson

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