Antonio Conte refuses to confirm whether N’Golo Kante will play against Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has confirmed that the club would wait until the very last minute until judging whether N’Golo will play against Manchester United on Sunday.

The midfielder hasn’t played for Chelsea since the October international break with a muscle problem in his thigh, precipitating a dip in results for the Blues.

He has been training with the Chelsea squad since last week but told the mixed zone following the 3-0 defeat to Roma that he only had a 50/50 chance of featuring against Man United.

And Conte, speaking at a press conference ahead of Sunday’s meeting at Stamford Bridge, confirmed that a final decision on Kante’s fitness on the eve of the game.

Kante’s presence matters because very few players have been so regularly and indisputably influential to winning sides over the past two years. First with Leicester City, and then with Chelsea.

Tiemoue Bakayoko has picked up criticism from supporters in recent times for a series of unreliable, scattered performances. Without Kante he can be left flatfooted in midfield, and with Nemanja Matic set to go up against the player Conte chose to replace him over the summer, perhaps the key battle will be between the two.

Never has there been a clearer chance for Matic to show just how foolish Chelsea were to sell such an important player to a rival.

And whether Kante starts alongside him or not will, you sense, determine how this crucial midfield clash will pan out.

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