Conte on Nainggolan, Morata, being linked with Roma and why Chelsea keep picking up injuries

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte fielded questions on a range of issues at his pre-match media conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game against Roma. Here’s some of what the Italian had to say.

Conte on Chelsea’s injuries

“For sure, when there are injuries of this type, to important players, it’s very difficult for us. But we must overcome it and try to do our best.

“It’s not simple when you don’t have players like [Alvaro] Morata or [N’Golo] Kante, and now also [Victor] Moses – three important players.”

On why Chelsea are picking up injuries

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“The problem is the same players are always playing. Also, we have in our team players who are not used to playing three games in a row [in the same week].

“For Kante, it’s the first time, for Moses it’s the first time, for Morata it’s the first time to play regularly with this team, for [Marcos] Alonso it’s the same.

“When you have a lot of games you need to rotate players and if this is not possible I have to take risks. For example, against Manchester City, Morata was injured after 20 minutes. But if I don’t put Morata in the starting XI, you [the media] tell me that I’m crazy. Instead, sometimes the players need to rest.”

On bouncing back after consecutive defeats

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“It’s a good time to play again, after two defeats. But the Champions League is a really tough tournament and we must pay great attention because Roma is a great team.

“They are doing very well in the Italian league and in the previous [Champions League] games they drew against Atletico Madrid and won against Qarabag. They are well organised and they have a lot of good players.”

On whether he might eventually prioritise one competition 

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“We are only in October, not in March. Now it’s impossible to take this decision, to take this risk.

“The situation is difficult because we have to play every three days. It’s not simple also because in this moment we are very thin and the same players always have to play. There is this type of risk to have other injuries – I hope not.

“The best way for us is to go game by game and decide which is the best formation, and sometimes to take risks or not about our players.”

On Morata

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“Alvaro is in contention for tomorrow’s game. He has trained with us and is in contention for tomorrow. I could have taken a risk on Saturday to force him to play against Crystal Palace but I’m not so stupid. I have to make the best decision. For sure, tomorrow, I’m not taking a risk if I decide for Morata to play.”

On reports linking him with the Roma manager’s job

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“Roma is a top team so I’m extremely proud to have seen my name close to them. It’s a great team with great players.

“They went through two major choices after Rudi Garcia, and chose two excellent coaches – [Luciano] Spalletti first, then [current boss Eusebio] Di Francesco.”

On which Roma players he’d like to ‘steal’

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“There are three players I know really well – [Daniele] De Rossi, [Alessandro] Florenzi, [Stephan] El Shaarawy – and I know their hearts. If I could steal a bit of their hearts it would be really helpful.”

On Chelsea’s previous attempts to sign Roma’s Radja Nainggolan

“In the past we tried to, but now he is Roma’s player. I have great respect for him, for Roma and for my players, and it is not right to speak about players of another team (being linked with Chelsea).

“He is a really great player and for me one of the best midfielders, but he is an opponent.”