Antonio Conte blames Chelsea's injury woes on hectic schedule

Conte says the injury problems that threaten to derail Chelsea's season have been caused by his side's increased workload.

Published: 18th October 2017 10:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th October 2017 10:33 AM   |  A+A-

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte (File | AP)

By AFP

LONDON: Antonio Conte says the injury problems that threaten to derail Chelsea's season have been caused by his side's increased workload.

Conte's team have lost their last two Premier League matches against Manchester City and Crystal Palace as the injury bug bites ahead of Roma's visit to Stamford Bridge in the Champions League on Wednesday.

France midfielder N'Golo Kante is sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring problem, while England midfielder Danny Drinkwater is a long-term absentee due to a calf injury.

Spain striker Alvaro Morata missed the shock 2-1 defeat at Palace with a hamstring strain, while Nigeria wing-back Victor Moses limped off during Saturday's game after suffering a hamstring problem.

Chelsea's lengthy injury list is a stark contrast to last season, when Conte was able to field the same starting line-up most weeks.

The Blues were able to focus on the Premier League with little disruption last term after failing to qualify for Europe.

But with the additional demands of the Champions League this season, Conte's squad is already being stretched to breaking point.

Some reports have claimed the intense Conte is working his players too hard in training, but the Italian is convinced it is the fixture schedule that is playing havoc with his players' fitness. 

"The problem is we are playing always the same players," Conte told reporters on Tuesday.

"And also we have players in our team who are not used to playing three games in a week. Kante, it's the first time. For Moses, the first time.

"For Morata, it's the first time to play regularly for his team. For Alonso it's the same.

"When you have a lot of games, you need to rotate players. If this is not possible, I have to take risks.

"For example, against Manchester City: Morata was injured after 20 minutes. But if I hadn't put Morata in the starting XI, you'd have told me I'm crazy. Sometimes the players need to rest."

Inquest

Having expressed his frustration at Chelsea's failure to land his top transfer targets during the close-season, Conte fears the English champions will struggle to cope with the demands of defending the title and competing in Europe.

Reportedly furious with Chelsea's limp display at Palace on Saturday, Conte is said to have held a lengthy inquest with his team this week, accusing them of taking it easy and imploring them to raise their work-rate.

Against that troubled backdrop, Chelsea could do with a morale-boosting victory against Roma.

Chelsea top Champions League Group C after thrashing Qarabag and securing an impressive win at Atletico Madrid.

Beating the Italians would keep Chelsea on course to progress to the knockout stages as group winners.

Conte will take heart from the return to fitness of former Real Madrid striker Morata, who had scored seven times in eight appearances before being injured last month. 

Michy Batshuayi gave another lacklustre display against Palace and is likely to make way for Morata.

"I could take a risk on Saturday to force Morata to play against Crystal Palace, but I'm not so stupid," Conte said.

"Tomorrow I'm not taking a risk if I decide for Morata to play."

Meanwhile, Roma striker Edin Dzeko has warned his team to expect a Chelsea backlash.

Dzeko has scored 10 goals in 13 appearances for Roma and Bosnia this season and was Serie A top scorer last term, earning a nomination for the Ballon d'Or.

"Chelsea is a great team with some amazing players. Tomorrow we'll play maybe also against an angry team," Dzeko said.

"Their coach will put pressure on them. But we didn't come here to play and lose, we came here to give our best and have a positive result."

Stay up to date on all the latest Football news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

facebook twitter whatsapp