Antonio Conte has said that he will monitor the fitness levels of Thibaut Courtois and Andreas Christensen ahead of Sunday’s London derby with Spurs.
The Chelsea pair were both withdrawn from international duty, to allow them to return to Cobham. The boss was asked at his pre-match press conference whether the duo would be available for selection and he confirmed that no decision has been made on that front just yet, with the pair to be assessed over the next couple of days.
‘We have to check on a couple of situations in Courtois and Christensen’, said Antonio. ‘We will see what their physical condition is and if they are able to play on Sunday against Tottenham.
‘At the moment, it’s very difficult to tell you with accuracy which is my choice for Sunday. We have to check these situations first.
‘I have to wait three days before making the best decisions for the team on Sunday. For sure now, we have two problems in Courtois and Christensen that we have to check but the most important thing is to have the right physical condition to play a good game. I have to make this decision.’
Should Christensen not make Sunday’s clash at the Bridge, then skipper Gary Cahill could replace the Dane in the centre of defence. Two players that the manager won’t be able to call upon, however, are David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu, who Conte has confirmed are both ruled out through injury.
‘David Luiz is out, at least for around another three weeks,’ explained the Italian. ‘He’s recovering from a problem in his knee. The solution would be to play Cahill in the middle but we will try to recover Christensen. Ampadu is injured and unavailable for the rest of the season.’
Antonio has stressed the importance of this fixture and accepts that should Spurs end that run with victory on Sunday, then it would make our target of finishing in the top four very difficult.
‘This is an important game for us and our target for the final stage of the season is to try and reach a place in the Champions League, and to then reach the final of the FA Cup,’ he added.
‘These are our targets for the rest of the season and, for sure, Sunday is an important game for us. If we win, we will go very close to Tottenham. Otherwise, we continue to stay behind with just seven games to go. That would make it difficult to take a place in the Champions League.
‘It’s a long time [the unbeaten home record against Spurs] and for sure, I remember the game two years ago. Tottenham risked breaking this situation when they were winning 2-0, but Chelsea did very well to come back and draw 2-2.
‘We are talking about a really good team, with a good manager and many talented players in this team. I have great respect for Tottenham because in the last few years, they have grown a lot and are now one of the best teams in England.’