English Premiership

Chelsea skipper Cahill backs under-fire Conte

Antonio Conte (Twitter)
Antonio Conte (Twitter)

London - Chelsea captain Gary Cahill has insisted that he and his fellow players have "no idea" about Antonio Conte's future at the Premier League champions as they prepare to take on Bournemouth on Wednesday.

The Italian led the Blues to last season's league title in his first season in charge, but he has been surrounded by speculation since the summer, with reports of a split between the club and coach over Chelsea's transfer policy.

"It is between the manager and the board. We have no idea about that, we have no idea what's going on between the lines," the England centre-back told reporters.

"I have experienced it a lot in my time here, but this has been a successful period. Chelsea is a successful football club and he is a top manager. We can't have any impact."

Third-placed Chelsea are 15 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City and Conte remains under pressure but Cahill insists he still has the backing of all the players.

"Of course we are 100% behind him. There is nothing between the manager and players, whatsoever," he said

"If Manchester City hadn't done what they've done, the title would still be there to be won.

"This season they've been fantastic, but we still aim to fight for second place. We have a big month coming up ... let's hope we come out at the end of that month in a positive way."

Cahill admits his side have found it tough to deal with their recent intense run of fixtures, with Bournemouth's visit their ninth game this month.

They were beaten by Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-finals last week but will host Hull City the FA Cup fifth round and await Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"The last couple of months have been demanding to say the least," he said.

"February is a huge, massive month for us. However heavy it is, we are not going to be able to change the fixtures. We just need to find the opportunity to rest, take that chance and be as fresh as we possibly can."

Conte is hoping to welcome back injured Alvaro Morata, Thibaut Courtois and Cesc Fabregas to his fatigued side ahead of the visit of Bournemouth.

The Cherries are only three points above the drop zone but are unbeaten in five as they return to the scene of one of their most famous Premier League results, a 1-0 win in December 2015.

"I always enjoy it, I like going there," said forward Junior Stanislas. "We've lost a couple of times but we beat them there the first season after we came up so I have some happy memories.

"Hopefully, we can create the same sort of result."

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