Article

Call the doctor! Conte protests no malice in David Luiz absence

15 December 2017 23:30

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte refuted suggestions he is not telling the full story over David Luiz's prolonged absence from the first-team picture.

David Luiz has not played for the Premier League champions since a dreadful performance in the dismal 3-0 Champions League loss at Roma at the end of October – a result that contributed towards Conte's men coming second in their group and being lumbered with a last-16 tie against Barcelona

The Brazil defender was dropped for the subsequent 1-0 win against Manchester United and Conte challenged him to work hard to regain a spot.

A knee injury has since complicated matters, with Conte on Friday describing the inflammation suffered by David Luiz as a "serious" problem.

The exasperated former Juventus boss then told reporters he would be as well calling Chelsea's club doctor into a news briefing, insisting any notion of a personality clash has nothing to do with the 30-year-old's on-going spell in the wilderness.

"To stop this, I think it's right to call the doctor and to have a conference with the doctor," he said. "I think this is a good idea.

"I understand that someone is thinking that I'm not telling the truth. I'm disappointed about this, but I can understand it. I'm disappointed because I like to tell you the truth at every moment.

"I'd like to tell you a bad truth rather than a good lie. I think we can call the doctor and organise a conference with the doctor for him to explain the medical situation of all my players and, in this way, I can avoid having to answer this question.

"Avoid the creation of this atmosphere of 'it's not true what he's telling us'. I am disappointed about this, but I will try to solve the situation."

Chelsea entertain Southampton on Saturday, looking to build on a stylish 3-1 midweek win at Huddersfield Town.

They remain 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, a deficit that prompted Conte to describe his team's prospects of a title defence as "bull****".

The Italian's apparent dissatisfaction with Chelsea's pre-season business contrasted with a largely slick approach to the window from City, who finished 15 points behind Chelsea last term.

"I don't know about this [being decisive]," he said. "For sure, Manchester City improved a lot, improved their team a lot.

"But when you buy players like Ederson, a top goalkeeper, then [Kyle] Walker, then [Benjamin] Mendy, then Bernardo Silva, then Danilo... for sure you improve your squad, improve your quality in your squad.

"Especially, I repeat, if you are able to take the first targets. Every club has their own strategy."

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