Sunday 22 April 2018

Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin happy to be linked with Italy job

Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin has been linked with the Italy job
Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin has been linked with the Italy job

Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin says he would be happy to be on a list of contenders to succeed reported Chelsea target Antonio Conte as Italy boss.

But Guidolin insists his only focus is on keeping Swansea in the Barclays Premier League.

Conte confirmed this week he was leaving his role in charge of the Azzurri following Euro 2016 and returning to club management, with Chelsea his expected destination.

Guidolin, the former Parma and Udinese coach, is highly respected in Italy after a long career in Serie A and speculation in his homeland has linked him to the national job.

The 60-year-old was appointed Swansea manager in January with the club in the thick of a relegation battle, and he will meet chairman Huw Jenkins at the end of the season to see whether he will stay on for next season.

"I am happy if my name is on the list (for the Italy job) but I know nothing," Guidolin said at his press conference ahead of Saturday's home game with Aston Villa.

"Two years ago when Conte got the national team I was very close to getting the job, but now it is only rumours.

"I think only of Swansea and to help my team, my club, my players.

"This season is not an easy season and my only focus is on this season."

Former Juventus coach Conte would join fellow Italians Guidolin and Leicester's table-topping boss Claudio Ranieri in the Premier League by joining Chelsea.

And Guidolin is in no doubt as to what kind of man Chelsea would getting if they appoint the 46-year-old former Juventus midfielder.

"I am not surprised that he (Conte) is leaving the national team, he needs to work every day," said Guidolin.

"Maybe in London, maybe in Chelsea, I don't know. But I know him, I know his character and quality.

"He is a good man and I think he would do well at Chelsea.

"He is a younger manager, but he has had international experience and is ready for this.

"I would say to him, 'If you have the possibility of coming to the Premier League, then come'. The atmosphere is fantastic and it is the most important league in the world."

Guidolin will return to the dugout on Saturday having missed Swansea's last three games with a chest infection.

He missed vital wins over Arsenal and Norwich when spending five nights in hospital and was recuperating at his Swansea apartment last week as the team lost 3-2 at Bournemouth.

First-team coach Alan Curtis has steered Swansea eight points clear of the relegation zone in Guidolin's absence, but he returned to take charge of training on Wednesday and will resume normal matchday duties against Villa.

"I will be here Saturday," Guidolin said. "I feel well, better every day.

"I am ready to come back in the bunch. It's nice.

"I've rested and recovered and now is the moment to come back.

"It's no problem for me, this is my life and I won't change.

"It is finished and I am ready, and now I have the possibility to be near my players on the pitch for the training sessions."

Press Association

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