Chelsea have been handed a major injury boost before their crucial Premier League clash against Crystal Palace with Blues boss Antonio Conte revealing defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante is fit again after suffering a scare last week.
“N’Golo is fine,” Conte told his pre-match press conference on Friday as he continued, “He trained the whole week. He’s in good form”.
Kante’s omission from the match day squad to face league leaders Manchester City had raised eyebrows and after the Blues slumped to a 1-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium, reports filtered in that the Frenchman had collapsed on the eve of the tie.
“Last week on Friday it was very cold, and after the training session he briefly passed out in the dressing room,” Conte confirmed.
“After this situation, the doctor gave him many check-ups to understand his physical condition. It was all clear. On Sunday he was well, but at the same time it was right to not take a risk and give him the opportunity to rest. He’s okay. Every check-up has been okay.”
Chelsea’s title defence has been disastrous, with the defending champions languishing in fifth place, a incredible 25 points behind runway leaders Manchester City.
The focus is firmly on securing a top-four berth, but the West Londoners trail fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur by five points.
“David Luiz is injured, and also (Ross) Barkley, and then I have to check a couple of situations,” Conte replied when asked if he had any other injury concerns.
“We must have great patience with Barkley. After a bad injury, and surgery in the muscles and the tendons, it’s not simple when you have been out for seven months to recover quickly. The player and I must have patience,” Conte stressed.
With Spurs not playing till Sunday, Chelsea can temporarily trim the deficit between themselves and the Lilywhites to just two points if they beat relegation-threatened Crystal Palace on Saturday.
However, a mid-week UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona looms large on the horizon and Conte could be tempted to rest star forwards Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata in a bid to keep them fresh for the trip the Catalonia.
The tie is delicately balanced after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw and while La Blaugrana are favourites to progress, the Premier League side will look to upset the odds at the Nou Camp.
Conte also spoke on Tiemoue Bakayoko, a player who’s got his share of flak after a series of underwhelming performances this season.
“If there can be a positive aspect from his injury, it is that he has had a lot of time to process the bad performance against Watford. Now he has been training with us for one week. His physical condition is not bad. Don’t forget Baka is only 23. He is a really young player.”