Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea have to stay focused amid rumours, says Conte

By Matt McGeehan

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has told his players to retain their focus as the winter transfer window nears.

The Blues boss on Thursday said he would welcome January reinforcements to add to his squad, while some of his players have been linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge.

Defender David Luiz and the left-sided Kenedy have been the subject of speculation suggesting they may leave Chelsea.

"A difficult period is starting," Conte said. "In this period there are a lot of rumours. Some rumours are true, some rumours are wrong. We have to play every three days and it's not right that these rumours disturb us.

"My players must be very clever to be focused, to play, to go game by game, don't listen to these rumours. We must be ready to face this situation. The best way for me is don't read and only chat with the club and then to try to improve our squad."

Chelsea play at Goodison Park today in the third game between the sides this season, with Conte set to face a third different Everton manager.

The Blues beat the Toffees 2-0 in the Premier League under Ronald Koeman in August and defeated caretaker boss David Unsworth's side 2-1 in the Carabao Cup fourth round in October.

But Everton's form has improved since Sam Allardyce's appointment as manager.

"Everton are a really good team, a really good squad," added Conte, whose Chelsea side have won eight, drawn one and lost one of their last 10 league games.

"In the last five games, they have won four games. They're in a good moment of form, they have great confidence.

"We must pay great attention to them. It's not simple to play away against Everton. At the same time we want to try to do our best, to get three points to continue our run in the league."

Marcos Alonso is back from a ban, but Luiz (knee) and Charly Musonda (groin) are out, as is Alvaro Morata who is suspended following his midweek booking.

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