Antonio Conte thanks Diego Costa for Chelsea contribution

by Leon Thompson September 23, 2017, 0:29
Antonio Conte thanks Diego Costa for Chelsea contribution

The Italian boss will be delighted that the vast majority of his squad will be fit for the clash.

'All of our players who are available for selection are fit, apart from Danny Drinkwater, ' Conte said.

Eden Hazard has completed the final steps in his recovery and on Wednesday played his first 90 minutes of football since the FA Cup final.

Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko was involved in a minor auto accident on his way home from training on Thursday but the France midfielder was not injured and is expected to be in the squad on Saturday at Stoke.

Kurt Zouma will be unavailable to face his parent club due to the terms in his loan deal, which causes defensive issues for Stoke with several other players out. After all, they are unbeaten at home this season, having already beat Arsenal and held Manchester United to a draw, and have plenty of talented attacking players with whom to put pressure on the Chelsea defence.

'It will be a real tough game, ' Conte added.

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"The most important thing is to go game by game. We must pay great attention but we are preparing very well". We are working very well and I'm pleased with the commitment and behaviour of my players. He has been carefully eased back into the first team picture after breaking his ankle on global duty during the summer.

"I think they will stay with us and if they stay in our squad it means we trust them and they have to continue in this way".

Honestly, in the last game I felt a really good atmosphere in the changing room - a good link between young players and old players. I think he played with good intensity. We have three games to play and there is the possibility to pick him from the start for these games, for sure'.

"Don't forget after two and a half days we have to play another important game against Man City".

It makes Saturday's task look even more daunting for Stoke as they look to bounce back from two successive defeats, a 2-1 loss at Newcastle last weekend and Tuesday's 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Bristol City, which Hughes labelled "our worst performance of the season".

Hughes, who has been using a formation with three men in the centre of defence, can not call upon the on-loan Kurt Zouma for the match at the bet365 Stadium as he is ineligible to face his parent club.

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