Conte on Italy job, Luiz, injury latest, Drinkwater, chasing Man City and why he’s growing a beard

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

Conte on the latest injury news

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“Batshuayi has a problem in his ankle and Musonda has a problem in his knee. Moses is progressing well and I hope to see him back next week.”

On reports he has fallen out with David Luiz

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“I think I stay here to speak for the team before the West Brom game, not a single player. I don’t like to speak about a single player.

“It (dropping him against Manchester United) was a technical decision. When it’s a tactical decision, every single player has to react well and accept my decision. This is normal.”

On whether he regrets loaning out Loftus-Cheek or Abraham

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“I think we are talking about two young players – two really good players – and for sure Ruben and Tammy will be the future for Chelsea. Now it is right for them to play regularly.

“For Ruben, it’s perfect for him to play this season – important for his development – and then to come back and play for Chelsea with great maturity.

“It (going out on loan) is the same option for Christensen. He played for two years on loan and is now playing regularly for Chelsea.

“Christensen is showing himself to be an important player for us and is playing with great maturity.”

On Danny Drinkwater declining an England call-up

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“He was very honest. During the game against United he took a knock on his calf. Only this week he started to work with us again. It means that the player was clear, was intelligent – I don’t understand why we have to try always to find a problem.”

On reports he could take over as Italy boss

“No, I must be honest, I think now it is very difficult because in this moment it is not simple.

“There are a lot of rumours and a lot of news. I think the Federation has to find the right solution for the future of Italy.

“This is not a great moment for my country. To miss the World Cup after 56 years means it’s a disaster.”

On returning to West Brom, where Chelsea clinched the title

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“It was a fantastic moment for me, for the players, for the club, for our fans. It was great. I remember this moment very well.

“I’m proud for what we did last season. But now we have to look at the present. This will be a really tough game but we want to continue to try to win in the league, but we know for sure this game will be very difficult for us.”

On whether Manchester City can be caught

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“I must be honest, now Manchester City are playing very well and it’s very difficult to think that you can catch them, because if they continue in this way it will be very difficult for any team to try and fight for the title.

“But the six top teams have to try. We have to try to fight until the end. But it won’t be easy because I think Manchester City are very strong.

“They were a very good team last season. This season they worked very well during the transfer market and are a team that, after this transfer market, showed themselves to be very, very strong. But football can be strange.

“It’s very difficult now to predict who will win the title, but Manchester City are having a path, a very positive path. It will be very difficult for the other teams.”

On technical director Michael Emenalo resigning

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“For sure this is a loss – a big loss for us. With Michael, our relationship was very good. He helped me a lot last season and also this season. For sure it was a surprise for me, his resignation from his job.

“At the same time I think that we have to respect his decision. I wish for him and his family the best, the best for the present and the future.”

On growing a beard

“My wife suggested that I tried for once to try with a beard. This is the first time. We can see if this beard brings luck or not. This is the first time I’ve tried to change my look – but only because my wife decided.”