Conte fears 20-day layoff for Kante as Morata nears returnOctober 13, 2017 12:51pm

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is dealing with a bit of an injury headache as defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante returned from international duty with a hamstring problem that the Italian tactician fears could rule him out for around 20 days.

The Blues return to Premier League action on Saturday at Selhurst Park in a tilt against Crystal Palace, and with Kante unavailable for selection, Conte has put thought to alternative options in his midfield.

"N'Golo Kante, we are going to do a scan next week to check his situation and if he is improving," Conte told reporters during a press conference on Friday, as quoted by BBC Sport. "It is a hamstring problem. A big loss for us.

"You know the importance of him in our team. We don't have a similar player with the same characteristics. Now we have Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas. We have to find different solutions."

Conte added that newly acquired midfielder Danny Drinkwater is "progressing well" as he recovers from a calf injury, but said the former Leicester City man is "not ready yet" and called for patience. Conte also pondered using centre-back David Luiz in midfield but would prefer to keep him in the backline.

It's not all bad news on the injury front, though. Star striker Alvaro Morata, who picked up a hamstring problem during a 1-0 loss to Manchester City earlier in the month, is recovering well, with Conte explaining: "I hope to have him back very soon. For the next game (against Roma)." Conte added that Michy Batshuayi is "in contention" to start against Crystal Palace, as such.

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