• Conte handed a United jersey with his name on the back during bizarre presser.
  • Alvaro Morata's physical condition "much improved" after recent back problem and will be ready for Barcelona clash next week.
  • Nathan Ampadu, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Dujon Sterling, Kyle Scott and Trevor Chalobah all to be named in Blues squad for FA Cup clash with Hull City on Friday.
Antonio Conte

All very strange indeed...

Banter is dead.


Well, that was all a bit strange. To recap, Antonio Conte's press conference was briefly interrupted by an Italian journalist, who showed the rather bemused-looking Chelsea boss a video on his tablet before presenting him with a Manchester United shirt with Conte's name on the back.


Morata's back injury

"Alvaro has been training with us regularly. His physical condition is improving. He will play a part of the game and he will be ready for the Champions League game against Barcelona. It's very important we have all players available."


The press conference is briefly interrupted as an Italian journalist presents Conte with a Manchester United shirt.... with Jose Mourinho's name on the back.


Giroud and Morata playing as a two?

"I think in the future, yeah, that could happen. If we decide to play as three midfielders. But now I think it is too soon to answer this question. We are playing witha system from last season and in this case it means Hazard, Pedro and Willian are out."


Will Chelsea's youngsters be involved Friday?

"In the past I have given them the chance to play, we are talking about two of the best players of our academy. Ampadu, for me, is not difficult to predict a brilliant future for him. The same for Hudson-Odoi. We also have Chalobah's brother, [Dujon] Sterling, Scott, they are coming with us for the game tomorrow. Chelsea's future is very brilliant to have these young players."


Ryan Mason's retirement

"We are very sad over this bad news. He showed great strength to recover and try to play again, it is a pity because to stop your career at such a young age, it is a pity. This news is bad news for us and we are very sad. The players wish him and his family the best for the present and the future."


Keane comments on players downing tools at Chelsea

"As you know, I underline the commitment of the players. I think that we have built a great mentality. In every training session I see great commitment. In this aspect I am very happy."


Morata benefiting from Giroud arrival?

"Alvaro is a player with good maturity, the competition is good for the team, a good team must have competition in every position. Giroud is a good option for us, very strong, powerful player."


Continued speculation over his future

"We must be focused on the pitch and to do our best, me my staff and my players, to give the best satisfacation to our fans and reach our maximum."


Three-day break response?

"It was right to take this decision. In the past we didn't have the chance to rest. If we won 3-0 against West Brom, it doesn't depend on the three days of rest."


FA Cup a priority?

"Every competition is a priority. We try to do the same in Carabao Cup, to try and fight for every competition. There is not one priority, there are three in this season."


Changes on Friday?

"For sure, we have in front of us two weeks that are very tough. for this reason it is right to have a plan to face these two tough weeks. at the same time, we want to try a go through in FA Cup."


Conte on injuries

"Bakayoko is out, Luiz is out and Barkley is out. I have a couple of situations I have to check."


Antonio Conte is expected to arrive any minute now.


Antonio Conte might have one or two injury problems to report shortly - but it will be nothing compared to the crisis engulfing Friday's opposition. Hull City could be without 12 members of their first-team squad for their visit to Stamford Bridge.


With Michy Batshuayi and Charly Musonda now out at Borussia Dortmund and Celtic on loan respectively, Conte is missing a couple of the options he has frequently turned to in cup competition. Willy Caballero is expected to take his place in goal again however having started in the previous two round.


Could tomorrow be the day we first see Emerson Palmieri in a blue shirt? The January signing was brought in to provide cover for the tireless Marcos Alonso, who missed the win over West Brom due to an ankle injury.

Alonso returned to training this week but with that Champions League tie against Barcelona looming large, Conte may opt to save him and hand the former Roma defender his debut.

He was an unused sub in games against Watford and West Brom, with Davide Zappacosta filling in on the left against the Baggies in Alonso's absence.

Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmieri
Getty Images


Chelsea's Under-18 side booked their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday [13 February]. Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi were eligible to play for Jody Morris' young hopefuls that day but were not included on the day so they could continue training with the first-team.

Is that an indication they will be involved on Friday? It's something Conte has already done in cup competitions this season, with both players featuring in the fourth round victory over Newcastle United.

Eighteen-year-old Dujon Sterling is another Chelsea youngster to feature under Conte this season but having been involved for the Under-18s – playing the full 90 minutes and scoring the game's opener against Spurs – he seems unlikely to be involved.

Callum Hudson-Odoi
Hudson-Odoi did not play for the Under-18s this week - meaning he could make the senior squad on Friday. Gettu


"We are struggling to find a solution to solve the pain in his back. If you ask me whether he needs a day, a month or the rest of the season, I don't know. For this season, I am a bit worried. You very well the importance of the player."

Those were Antonio Conte's comments on Alvaro Morata's back injury last Friday. Despite his concerns, the Spain international emerged of the bench in that comfortable win over West Brom to produce a bright cameo performance just three days later.

Is the problem now completely resolved? It would appear so, but let's hear what the manager has to say first.

Alvaro Morata
Morata returned after his recent injury on Monday. Getty


A 3-0 win over West Brom get Chelsea back on track somewhat last Monday but they now enter a pivotal week in their season as far as their chase for silverware is concerned.

The FA Cup is probably their most realistic opportunity in that respect; Chelsea host Hull City in the fifth round of the competition on Friday. But just around the corner is the visit of Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Co arriving at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.

Is that fixture likely to factor into Antonio Conte's selection plans for the Tigers? We will find out shortly, with an update on Alvaro Morata's back injury also expected after his return to action on Monday.