Antonio Conte
Conte is likely to confirm his move to Chelsea next month. Getty Images

Italy coach Antonio Conte will follow Jose Mourinho's disciplinarian approach and rule with an iron fist at Chelsea, according to former striker Tony Cascarino. The 46-year-old is widely expected to be confirmed as the new Blues boss in March and will take charge following the end of his current contract after the summer's European Championships.

The Guardian understands Conte has pipped Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone to permanently fill the position, which is currently occupied by interim gaffer Guus Hiddink. In the 14 matches since Mourinho was sacked in December the West Londoners have lost just once.

Among the defining features of Chelsea's limp defence of their title at the start of the campaign was the poor performances of many of Mourinho's most trusted players. Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic were among those who failed to meet expectations and Cascarino expects Conte to demand that standards never slip.

"He's a disciplinarian," he told Sky Sports. "There's the story where he challenged Buffon because he was a minute late for a game when he was Juve boss.

"He sets standards, he's very Mourinho-like, he expects everyone to be on board and total professionalism. I think that's what Chelsea are looking for and he will give them that, but there's also a side to him like Mourinho that he can communicate with players and get the best out of them and lift their levels.

"He's done brilliantly at Juventus and I think he's finding it difficult as Italy coach because of the conflict between club and country," the ex-Chelsea forward added on Conte, who has won the Serie A title three times as a manager. "As a coach he's very flexible – he has played with three at the back, he has played with a back four. He's a manager of the modern game, part of a new breed coming through that are prepared to be flexible with their team."