Thursday, March 30, 2017

Conte praises Cahill mental strength and wishes Mason well

SoccerNews in FA Cup 27 Jan 2017

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Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte credited Gary Cahill’s strong mentality with helping him through this week in the aftermath of the horrific injury suffered by Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason.

Mason and Cahill accidentally clashed heads during the opening stages of last Sunday’s 2-0 victory for the Premier League leaders at Stamford Bridge – the England centre-back later scored – and the impact left the former Spurs midfielder hospitalised with a fractured skull.

Hull have reported the 25-year-old is making “excellent progress” following surgery at St Mary’s Hospital in London and Conte once again extended Chelsea’s well wishes.

“For sure when it happens, this type of situation, it is never good if you are involved in that incident,” he said when asked about Cahill’s state of mind ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Brentford.

“It was not so good. [Cahill] has a good mentality and he overcame the situation, the accident.

“But I understand how it is for Gary. It was a bad lesson. I am pleased that the guy [Mason] stays well.

“I repeat, I wish for him and his family the best and I hope to see him very soon on the pitch to play.”

In light of a seemingly favourable home draw versus Championship opposition, Chelsea could be forgiven for allowing their eyes to wander towards next week’s crunch Premier League showdowns with title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.

However, Conte believes a squad that has avoided the strain of competing in Europe this term should be fully focused on a competition he views as prestigious.

“For us, every competition must be a priority. In this case, the FA Cup is a good opportunity,” he said.

“Also, there are many players in this moment who are not playing. To have another competition is very important for us

“This season we did not play in the Champions League or the Europa League. For this reason this competition is very important for us.

“Also, this is the oldest competition in the world and for me it is an important trophy to try and win. We want to win to go into the next round.

“You know better than me that it is the FA Cup and anything can happen. If you don’t play with the right focus you can go [out].”

On the forthcoming trip to Anfield and return London derby with Arsene Wenger’s side, Conte added: “We play two games that are very, very tough against two rivals. They are rivals to win the league

“But for me my focus and concentration is in the next round of the FA Cup and I think the same thought is in the mind of my players.”

Conte confirmed Nathan Ake will enjoy his first competitive action since Chelsea recalled him from a loan spell at Bournemouth this weekend and is impressed by the 21-year-old’s versatility.

“Ake, I think he has the possibility to play in different positions – as a central defender and as a wing-back,” he said.

“For sure, tomorrow is a good opportunity for him to show me he is into our idea of football.”

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