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Conte on Sanchez, Batshuayi, injury news, Hudson-Odoi and why keeping Hazard happy isn’t important

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke about a number of issues at a media conference ahead of the game against Norwich. Here’s some of what the Italian had to say.

Conte on the team news for the Norwich game


“Cahill has a muscle problem but it is not serious. Cesc has a little problem in his hamstring and is not available for tomorrow’s game.”

On whether he might pick teenage striker Callum Hudson-Odoi

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“I think we are talking about a player with good potential. I think he needs another step before having this chance to play a game with us.

“For sure, this is a player who is very interesting for us. We have to continue to work with him to try to improve and have another step – to be ready to face this type of game.”

On Ross Barkley

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“He is not able to play (against Norwich) because the transfer was late.

“We are preparing a friendly game for him this week and we will see his physical condition.

“He could be ready for the next game or the next game.”

On Ethan Ampadu

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“Probably Ampadu will play tomorrow, but because he has shown he deserves this chance – he has kept his level.

“Young players have to deserve this opportunity and to show me, when I give them this opportunity, they didn’t make a mistake.

“I think young players have to deserve this chance, not just because these players are from the academy. I want to be clear: for this reason, Ethan Ampadu has deserved to have this chance.”

On facing Norwich

“This is an important game. It’s a good chance to continue to keep the clean sheets, because that is not easy, and then to try and win the game, to score and win the game and go through to the next round.

“But this type of game is very difficult. We have to pay great attention to try to win the game.”

On whether Chelsea are pursuing Alexis Sanchez

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“I don’t know. I don’t know but I don’t think so.

“As you know very well, I prefer to talk to the club and to give an opinion. I don’t want to give my opinion (to the media) on the transfer market.”

On reports Michy Batshuayi is set to join Sevilla on loan

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“Michy is a Chelsea player. He’s in our squad and tomorrow he has to play.

“This is the truth. He is now a Chelsea player, having the possibility to show that he deserves to play for Chelsea. This is the reality.

“Then in the future, I don’t know what will happen. Also, the final decision is for the club not for me.”

On whether he expects new signings

“I try to work with my players and I’m very happy to work with my players. We are working very well, very hard, to try to build something important for this club. This is my first task.

“Then, if someone asks me my opinion about the situation, if we can improve or not, I can give my opinion.

“But I repeat: I think the most important thing for me and my players is to work and continue to exploit this squad in the right way – to try to improve every single player.”

On why Eden Hazard is substituted so often

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“We are talking about a player who recently had a bad injury in his ankle and surgery. Usually, when you have this type of situation, you must pay great attention.

“During the season you can have ups and downs. He missed pre-season with us and we are trying to find the best way. It’s normal that one player can’t keep always on top form.

“But, like the others, my task is to try and improve him and try and put him in the best physical condition to take the best decision for the team during games. Not only for him, but for every single player.”

On whether Hazard is happy with this

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“This is not important. I’m the coach – I decide. It’s not important if one player is happy or not.

“My first task is to do the best for the team and the club, not to make every player happy. Otherwise we risk finishing 20th in the table. Every press conference there is always this question about whether I’m worried about making my players happy. No. I’m worried to win.”

On Chelsea’s lack of goals

“It’s a good question. This is a real problem for us. We are not conceding goals, which is good news, but the bad news is we are not scoring. For sure, we have to improve on this aspect.

“My players know very well that they can improve. Also, if you compare to the past, every single player has scored less than last season. For this reason, we must be worried – not if a player is happy or not.”

On Alvaro Morata

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“It’s normal, when you are a striker and you don’t score, you are a bit frustrated. He had good chances to score but I think in this period also he’s been a bit unlucky.

“He has to continue to work and to improve himself, not lose confidence, and to continue to trust in himself. The coach trusts him, his team-mates trust him. The situation can change.”

On whether the busy fixture schedule will affect Chelsea’s Champions League campaign

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“Yes, for sure – to have this type of schedule is not simple. It is not simple to play every two days.

“Sometimes they change the fixtures in a strange way. For example, against Norwich, we had to play today and then they changed to play tomorrow and to have only two days to rest before Brighton.

“For sure, to have many games we must be proud because it means that, in every competition, we are going forward. But, at the same time, you arrive at the end of February and March risking to be tired.

“I hope not, but there is this type of risk. There is this type of risk for sure.”