The hamstrung Blues

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Tony Conte ponders his current selection problems


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

The Blues are hamstrung. Identical injuries to Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata mean Tony Conte can’t choose from a full squad until Manchester United visit the Bridge on bonfire night.

In the meantime, rejuvenated Watford fancy their chances in SW6 on Saturday lunchtime after defeating Arsenal.

Chelsea deserved nothing at Selhurst Park last weekend as Roy Hodgson extracted a battling performance from Palace to win the Eagles’ first points, cheered on by the Premier League’s noisiest crowd.

While Morata may start against the Hornets, it’s the rest of the team that must up their game. Conte wants his players to give 150 per cent - an increase on the 120 per cent demanded at the season’s start.

Inexplicably, Chelsea had a stronger squad last year with no European fixtures. Yet a dozen potential superstars of tomorrow are doing the business, week in week out, on loan.

What wouldn’t Conte give to instantly recall Tammy Abraham (scoring freely for Swansea), Izzy Brown (effervescent for Brighton) or Kurt Zouma (bamboozled by Man City at the weekend, but generally solid)?

Meanwhile Blues fans look wistfully at Kevin De Bruyne, flogged to Wolfsburg in 2014 then snapped up by City for £55million a year later; a world superstar allowed to slip through Chelsea’s fingers.

Conte is now thinking of four or even five fresh signings in January, especially if the club is still in Champions League contention.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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