Victor Moses is in line to return for Chelsea against Bournemouth on Saturday – a match that manager Antonio Conte believes will be a “great challenge” for the Premier League leaders.
A calf injury kept Nigeria international Moses out of the shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace last Saturday and the 2-1 win over Manchester City on Wednesday.
Conte experimented with Pedro at the right wing-back position against Palace before moving Cesar Azpilicueta into the role for the visit of Pep Guardiola’s men, with Kurt Zouma returning to the centre of the defence.
And, although he hopes to have Moses fully fit for the match at Vitality Stadium, Conte has praised his squad for ensuring that the loss of regular members of the starting line-up has not been damaging to their title charge.
Asked about Moses’ fitness, Conte told a news conference: “He trained with us. I have to check his situation and then make the best decision for the team. But he is available.
“Victor Moses showed this season that he is an important player for us, but in the games against Crystal Palace and City we showed that we can play without him.
“We are a team, not 11 single players. If you think you can win a game with only one player, you are in trouble, because if you miss this player then it’s impossible to win.
“I’m pleased when this happens because it means every single player is into our football. During the training sessions, I have 20 players and I train them in the same way, because I know that anything can happen during the season and you must have players available.
“I think Zouma showed this in a tough game against a great team.”
Training done. Now the Blues are off to Bournemouth! pic.twitter.com/1LlEGkxFUl
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 7, 2017
Tottenham will have the chance to close to within four points of the Premier League leaders before they kick off against Bournemouth, but Conte feels Spurs’ result will have little impact on what is set to be a difficult game for his side.
“I don’t think it’s an advantage [to play earlier],” Conte said. “If they win, lose or draw, it’s the same. It’s important to look at ourselves. Tottenham’s result is important but ours is the most important.
“I see two teams, Chelsea and Tottenham, in this [title] race. But anything can happen. There are 24 points and other rivals can get into this race.
“For us, this is a great challenge. It’s not easy to play against City, a big game, big atmosphere, and then play after three days against Bournemouth.
“They’re a really good team, with a good coach, a good idea of football. If we think that it’s easy, we’re making a great mistake.”
Conte went on to defend his decision to recall Nathan Ake from his loan spell at Bournemouth, despite the 22-year-old having yet to make an appearance in the league since returning to Stamford Bridge.
“Yes, I think this was the right decision,” he said. “It’s important to check our players and then to see the improvement.
“I’m happy to have Nathan with us. It’s not easy when you arrive and you have, before you, five central defenders who are really good. But I’m pleased with his commitment and his attitude. He’s a good player. It was right to bring him with us in this season.”
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