Conte on Drinkwater’s illness, West Ham, Azpilicueta and the futures of Hazard and Luiz

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

On David Luiz and Danny Drinkwater

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“David Luiz is out with a knee problem and Danny Drinkwater because he is sick with a fever.

“We (also) have to check a couple of situations and make the best decision for tomorrow’s game. I have to check their physical condition.

“After all these games it is normal to check. A player could be tired and we must make the right decision.”

On reports Luiz is set to leave

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“I must be honest, I don’t know the right time. I this case I think the doctor can speak about this situation and be more accurate.”

On whether Eden Hazard might leave

“I repeat: it’s important to be focused on this moment. Then when there is the right moment, I try to answer this question.”

On Hazard coming 19th in the Ballon d’Or list

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“I’m surprised. I’m repeating always the same concept: if you want to win the Ballon d’Or, you have to win the league, the Champions League, the World Cup. It’s important to have great wins.

“Eden is a young player. He has the potential to improve his place in this table. Maybe two years ago, Hazard wasn’t in the table.

“A top player must have this ambition, otherwise you stay with the others in the middle. He has potential to become one of the best, but he has to win.”

On N’Golo Kante coming eighth

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“To finish eighth for N’Golo is a great result. I’m proud for him. He’s a fantastic player. For me in his role he is one of the best in the world.”

On whether he is surprised West Ham have struggled

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“Yes. I must be honest, West Ham has a good squad, good players, and to see them in this position is a bit strange.

“For sure they have the potential to do better. I hope not tomorrow, but after our game. They are a really good team with good players.”

On Monday’s Champions League draw

“I think when you reach this level it’s very difficult to say this team is good or this team is not good. On paper, and also experience, I think Barcelona and PSG are very good.

“For sure these two clubs are favourites for the final victory in this competition. At the same time we must be ready to face Barcelona, PSG or Besiktas.”

On recently resting Cesar Azpilicueta

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“I try to protect every player. When you play every three days, it’s very difficult and is impossible to keep your form the best. Also the risk for injuries is very high.

“I try to rotate my players, try to make the best decision. When I did this I received a good response from all my players.”