Conte receives massive injury boost ahead of crucial Crystal Palace clash, confirms Giroud or Morata will start

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has given an update on N’Golo Kante’s situation by confirming that he is fine now and trained with the squad this whole week.

Chelsea faced Manchester City at the Etihad last weekend and what surprised everyone was the missing name of N’Golo Kante from the teamsheet. It was later confirmed that the Frenchman would be missing the fixture through illness and only a day later, reports unearthed that he actually fainted at the club’s training ground on Friday (February 2).

According to reports, he has visited a specialist in Barcelona a few times this season. The 26-year-old midfielder trained normally with his teammates at Chelsea’s training base in Cobham and as soon as he returned to the dressing room, he passed out. The midfielder later underwent some cardiology tests and although he was deemed fit to face the Cityzens, he felt unwell on Sunday morning, hence was excluded from the squad.

Kante has been one peripheral figure for Chelsea even in this uneventful season for the club. Before missing the Manchester City fixture, Kante had played 18 consecutive Premier League games for the Blues (also, not to forget the Champions League and domestic fixtures).

N'Golo Kante of Chelsea

N’Golo Kante

So when quipped over the update on his fitness, manager Antonio Conte seemed positive and said that the midfielder is fine and is in contention to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

“N’Golo is fine. He trained the whole week. He’s in good form. He’s fine,” Conte told the club’s official website.

“Last week if you remember it was very cold and, after the training session, he passed out briefly in the dressing-room,” Conte explained.

“I think that, for sure, after the situation the doctor brought him to have many controls, many check ups, to understand the physical condition. But it was all clear.

“I think that on Sunday he was well but, at the same time, it was right not to take a risk. To give him the opportunity not to play and to rest. But he’s okay. Every check up is perfect.”

Conte was further pressed about the availability of other players and he said that the likes of David Luiz and Ross Barkley are out injured. The former has sustained fresh ankle and knee injuries in recent times and has only featured twice in the Premier League since the turn of the year.

David Luiz

The former PSG defender has already visited a specialist in Barcelona a few times this season, but the doctors have failed to find a solution to his problem, which is why he will be missing the game at Stamford Bridge.

“David Luiz is injured and also Barkley. I have to check a couple of situations before the game. It is better to keep secret the situation.” 

Barkley, who joined Chelsea from Everton, has featured just once in the Premier League for Chelsea and only returned last week from a hamstring injury.

“About Barkley, if you remember, before the game against City during the press conference, I said the player… we must have great patience with him,” Conte said about the England international.

“After a bad injury and a surgery in the muscular tendons, it’s not simple when you stay out for seven months to recover very quickly. He must have patience to wait for the right moment. We must have patience, the player and I. Yes.”

Conte decided to go with a false-9 against Manchester City and thanks to the physical dominance of Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte, Eden Hazard was left as a mere spectator. The Belgian, after the game, talked about Cote’s tactics and stated that the result might have been a bit different had the Italian had used either Morata or Giroud. 

Olivier Giroud

Conte was eventually pressed on whether Giroud or Morata will start, and he replied,

“Tomorrow for sure we have this option to play with Giroud or Morata as number nine. It is an important game and we want to try to get three points. We will see tomorrow the final decision.”

Antonio Conte’s future has been put under heavy scrutiny since the turn of the year and his team’s recent performances haven’t helped his cause as well. If the reports are to be believed, Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain have identified the Italian as the perfect replacement of Unai Emery.

To add further to it, it is also believed that Conte’s agent, Federico Pastorello will be in Paris next week, on Tuesday — the day before Chelsea play Barcelona in the last-16 of the Champions League — to hold a meeting with PSG hierarchy. 

So when quipped about this entire speculation, Conte said

“I am starting to have this, and it is very strange from the start of the season to read or hear a lot of news about my job. Nothing has changed.”

Irrespective of all the speculation surrounding the players and the manager, the focus needs to remain right as we try and push ourselves into the top-4. We still have a great chance of achieving it and should we not do it, then Conte’s Chelsea future could be in trouble.

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