Antonio Conte is ready to bring N’Golo Kante back into action against Manchester United on Sunday to solve Chelsea’s defensive vulnerabilities.
Midfielder Kante, 26, has not played since October 7 when he damaged a hamstring on duty with France. Since then Chelsea have leaked 11 goals in six games.
Kante saw his team-mates lose 3-0 in Rome this week and said later he was unsure if he would be fit to start against United.
Conte, however, hopes he can toughen Chelsea’s soft centre — particularly with their former midfielder Nemanja Matic trotting out in red at Stamford Bridge.
‘We know Nemanja’s qualities,’ said Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. ‘Last year he gave us the balance but he decided to go, so we won’t live in the past.’
Phil Neville, a former United defender, claimed Chelsea’s problems against Roma could all be traced to the decision to sell the Serb to United for £40million.
Neville told BBC 5 Live: ‘The minute they sold Matic was a mistake. Whoever made that decision needs sacking. ’
Neville’s brother, Gary, used social media to dismiss the idea Conte was happy to sell as ‘bulls***’.
Matic wanted to go in 2016 but Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich did not agree the sale until last July.
Conte then spent weeks complaining about his transfer frustrations and has since lost Kante, Victor Moses, Danny Drinkwater and Alvaro Morata with muscle injuries.
Matic said: ‘I always gave 100 per cent (at Chelsea) and we won two titles and a cup. I’m sure they respect that but, if not, I don’t really care. United is my club and I’ll try to win there.’
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