ROME — Antonio Conte said he will speak to N’Golo Kante before deciding whether to include the France international in Chelsea’s starting XI to face Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Kante has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring injury on France duty at the beginning of October, but trained with the first-team squad at Cobham prior to Saturday’s win over Bournemouth and again on Monday, raising hopes that he could be fit to feature at Stadio Olimpico.
But with a crucial Premier League match against Manchester United to come on Sunday, Conte is wary of rushing Kante back into action before he feels ready.
“I think it’s very important, in this moment, to speak with the player and then see his sensation [feeling],” Conte said.
“I was a player and you know very well that, after an injury, above all a muscular problem — a bad injury — it’s very important to listen to the player and what are his sensations and then make the best decision for him, for the team. For sure, tomorrow, we’ll try and make the best decision.”
Victor Moses is the only Chelsea player definitely ruled out of the Roma match as he nurses a hamstring problem of his own, but Danny Drinkwater is available after playing more than an hour in a 2-1 win over Everton in the Carabao Cup and coming on as a substitute against Bournemouth.
“It’s important for us to overcome this difficult period,” Conte added. “We are recovering important players, and you know very well how important it is for me to have all the players available.
“Whenever you are playing seven games in 21 days, you don’t sort problems out overnight. You just have to try and do your best in every game to face this emergency. We’ve faced this situation since the beginning of the season. I hope it ends soon.
“There are two big games before the international break, against Roma tomorrow and then United on Sunday. For us, for sure, two big games. But I like to repeat that the most important thing is to go game by game. The most important game is tomorrow, against Roma.
“Which will be the final result? I don’t know. But we have to put all [out of] ourselves to try and get a good result. That will be really important, a good result. And then we must try and prepare for another tough game against United in the league.”
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.