Newcastle boss Benitez: Conte must know Chelsea problems nothing new

Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton

The Blues boss, whose side crashed out of the Carabao Cup at Arsenal this week, insists he does not fear the bullet himself.

Striker Alvaro Morata and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois picked up knocks prior to the Arsenal clash.

And so far Chelsea have won just one of those fixtures, last weekend's Premier League victory at Brighton, while they squeezed by Norwich on penalties in a third-round replay.

"Morata, Courtois are out", Conte began when he was asked about his team readiness for the game Newcastle United during his pre-match conference on Friday.

"I don't know how close they are to returning".

Asked when the pair will return, he responded, "I don't know, it is very hard to tell you today how many days they need to come back".

"Morata has this problem in his back, Courtois took a kick in his ankle".

Willy Caballero should continue between the sticks but Conte faces a new selection dilemma regarding the make-up of his attack without Morata.

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Cesc Fabregas has returned to training this week and could feature, while recent signing Ross Barkley could be handed another start after making his debut at the Emirates on Wednesday.

Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian started against Arsenal but the Brazil winger was forced off with a hamstring injury during the first-half of the game and will be unavailable to face Newcastle.

Conte downplayed the severity of the Willian injury, saying: "I don't think we are talking about a serious injury".

Conte also had a say on the recovery of Cesc Fabregas who has been out of action for a while now.

"Fabregas trained with us today and tomorrow I will check his physical condition and form".

"It is a pity because we had a good run in this competition, it is a pity for me, the players and fans".

"After a bad injury you need a bit of time to be fit 100%". "We don't have other options".

The Blues' schedule means Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Newcastle is their eighth of nine games in January.

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