Round-up: Conte future, Zouma substitution explained, QPR youngsters sign deals

Antonio Conte has again insisted that he has no plans to leave Chelsea at the end of the season.

Reports in his native Italy recently suggested that the Blues boss was being lined up to take over at Inter Milan.

And Italian agent Andrea Pastorello this week fuelled the speculation by suggesting Conte could be open to the idea of quitting Stamford Bridge after just one season at Chelsea.

However, Conte told Sky in Italy: “I don’t like it when others speak for me.

“Pastorello is a friend. I know him well. But I don’t like when others speak for me. If someone wants to know something about me, then they must ask me.

“We’re fighting for the title and we want to achieve this goal, then we’ll try to build something important together.”

Asked whether that meant he will be at Chelsea next season, Conte said: “Yes, for the next season.”

Zouma substitution explained

Conte said he took Kurt Zouma off at half-time against Manchester City because he felt Chelsea needed to be stronger in midfield.

The Blues took a step closer to the title by winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, where Eden Hazard scored two first-half goals.

But City caused the Premier League leaders problems, prompting Conte to replace defender Zouma and send on Nemanja Matic to link up with N’Golo Kante in midfield.

Conte explained: “It was only a tactical change. I think Kante played very well in the first half but we were suffering too much in the midfield and for this reason I preferred to pick Matic and reinforce our midfield.

“I think it was right, because in the second half we didn’t risk.”

Costa won’t face FA action

Chelsea’s Diego Costa will not face retrospective action from the Football Association after appearing to kick out at Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany.

The incident occurred during the second half of Wednesday’s game.

Referee Mike Dean saw the incident, meaning there will not be any follow-up FA action.

Freeman up for award

QPR midfielder Luke Freeman has been shortlisted for the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for March.

Freeman, who joined QPR from Bristol City in January, has been in excellent form for the R’s and scored in the recent 5-1 win against Rotherham.

The other three players shortlisted are Leeds’ prolific striker Chris Wood, Preston’s Tom Barkhuizen and Aden Flint of Bristol City.

Deals for QPR youngsters

Three QPR academy players have signed new deals with the club.

Third-year scholars Hugo Cardoso, Romeo Akinola and Charlie Fox have all had their contracts extended to June 2018.