Conte on his future, dropping Christensen, Courtois, Southampton and reports Drinkwater wants out

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

Conte on trying to get a Champions League place

“It is difficult for sure. We know this but at the same time we have to try to get points and see what happens at the end of the season. It is not simple. It will be very difficult to reduce this gap and get a place in the Champions League but we must try.”

On reports Danny Drinkwater could seek a move

“I think he’s having an unlucky season, Danny, because he started the season with a problem in his calf and then he continued to have problems.

“For sure for him it has not been a lucky season. But we are talking about a good midfielder, a good player and I trust him.

“Now is not the right moment to speak about one player and specifically one situation.”

On speculation about his own future

“This is not my job to answer this type of question. My job is to work with these players to try to finish the season as strongly as possible.

“There is always speculation around our position – not only for me but for a lot of coaches. This is our job.

“Honestly, I am not curious (where the reports come from). Also because I don’t read the papers. I am not interested in this. My only worry is to do my work with my players in the best way possible.”

On Thibaut Courtois being linked with PSG

“I am listening to this question for a long time and my answer is always the same. We are talking about a really good keeper, but as you know very well this (the contract negotiations) is a problem to solve between the club and Thibaut.”

On Southampton

“This team has great quality in the squad. For me, it’s a big surprise to see them in this position in the relegation zone. They have a squad with great quality and talented players. We must pay great attention as it won’t be easy against them.”

On dropping Andreas Christensen

“Don’t forget, we’re talking about a young player. For him, this is the first season to play at this level and to play at this level it means that you lose a lot of mental energy. It could be that he can be a bit tired under this aspect.

“At the same time, I think to give Gary Cahill the possibility to play is right. We are talking about an important player, not only for Chelsea but also for the national team.

“I have this opportunity to make rotations – especially in the defensive line – and when there is the possibility, when I see some situations, I try to change something.

“At this moment, I have four central defenders. From now until the end [of the season], I think I will make rotations to give everyone the possibility to play.”