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N’Golo Kante injury, Thiago Silva contract, Rafael Leao interest

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Chelsea have travelled to Italy this week for their Champions League group stage clash with AC Milan, having comfortably beaten the Rossoneri last week in what was actually a first European win of the season for Graham Potter’s side.

Since then, Chelsea have built on their growing momentum with a Premier League victory over Wolves in which Potter made a number of changes to rest players.

Another win is vital for Chelsea in a tight Group E where top and bottom are separated by just two points halfway through the group stage.

Read on for the key parts of Potter’s pre-match press conference…

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Why did N’Golo Kante & Hakim Ziyech not travel?

“Hakim is ill, and N’Golo we’re just waiting on. He had a reaction in training. So we’re just waiting for the news of that. Hakim’s got a sore throat, so that’s why he didn’t travel.

“[The Kante situation is] not ideal, and it is disappointing for him and us. So we have to wait and see the extent of it and go from there.

“Everyone [else] is available [apart from Wesley Fofana]. The fact we could rotate a few [against Wolves] has probably helped us in terms of availability for this game and, hopefully, a bit of freshness. We’re going to need that because it’s going to be a physically demanding game.”

How is Thiago Silva’s illness?

“He was okay when we played AC Milan, but he just got a little bit worse as the week went on. In the end, because there were only two days between the games, it didn’t make sense to play him again. But he’s recovered well.”

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How impressed have you been with him overall?

“He’s been incredibly impressive on and off the pitch. He is a leader. He’s a top professional and a top person. He’s been again a joy to work with.”

How long can he keep playing at the highest level?

“I think the decision is Thiago’s. I’ve been here three or four weeks. I see his qualities. He’s an incredible person, incredible player. The level he can play at, the performance level he can reach, and the respect he has through the game is just incredible.

“All I can do is try and help him enjoy his football here, be part of a winning team and all of the rest is something for him and the club to think about.”

Would winning at San Siro be a statement win?

“That’s our challenge. That’s what we have to try to do. It is an incredible place here, and it will be a completely different game.

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“AC Milan will try to use the home advantage as we did last week. It is two good teams, two evenly-matched teams. So it will be a fantastic game, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Will Chelsea use the same formation as last week’s 3-0 win?

“I won’t tell you about how we’re going to line up! But we’re happy with the options that we have that’s for sure. We’re expecting a really tough game, AC Milan have a lot of good players and a strong team.”

What do you think of Rafael Leao after seeing him play last week?

“The player you mentioned is part of that team. You can see his quality and what he brings. He’s part of a strong team, a strong club and a strong set-up, and we respect that.”

How much confidence has three wins in a row brought to the team?

“As I used to say at Brighton, wins are the best way to convince people that your ideas can work, and it is only a short time. So I’m not getting carried away.

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“Wins help, but it’s about getting to know the players and the process. But we all know that we need to win as well. So it was a good week, but it was only a week.”

How disappointed are you to see your former player Enock Mwepu forced to retire?

“Really terrible, but thankfully, it isn’t as terrible as it maybe could’ve been because I think he has been as lucky as he can be in the sense that he is alive and well.

“That is something we’re really thankful for. But at 24 years old, to not be able to play football puts everything in perspective. I tried calling him today – I sent him a message – he is a fantastic person, and whatever he does, he will succeed in his life. But it’s a shame we won’t see him on the pitch.”

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EPL

Conor Coady responds to ‘daft’ question about Liverpool allegiance

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Conor Coady has told England teammate Jordan Henderson to do better in his goading after the Liverpool captain taunted him over his Everton connection.

Coady was a product of the Liverpool youth system and made a solitary appearance for his boyhood club in the 2012 Europa League. He has since moved on to Huddersfield Town and Wolves before joining Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton on loan last summer.

Speaking on the latest episode of Lion’s Den from England’s World Cup camp, though, Henderson could not resist trying to wind up Coady by quizzing him on his allegiances.

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“Conor, we are all England here,” Henderson said. “But what I really want to know is: are you blue or red?”

Henderson then started laughing, which prompted a similar response from Coady, who appeared both irritated and amused by the question.

“It’s so poor from him,” Coady said while smiling. “We have banter all the time. Of course, I am playing for Everton. He knows deep down.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

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If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

“So, for him to come out there and ask that question is daft. Of course, I am blue. Of course, I am blue, without a shadow of a doubt.

“For him to say that…you know what I am going to go back there sit down and have a coffee with him. I will give him a bit. That’s nowhere near good enough from the big fella. Blue all day long.”

Everton have a clause allowing them to sign Coady permanently from Wolves this summer for a fee of just £4.5m.

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Club director leaves door open to Chelsea transfer in January

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Dynamo Moscow director Dmitry Gafin has admitted young midfielder Arsen Zakharyan could seal his move to Chelsea in January.

The Blues attempted to sign the 19-year-old during the summer transfer window but complexities involved in dealing with a Russian club left them unable to complete a deal for Zakharyan before the window closed.

Since then, sources have informed 90min that Chelsea have not given up on Zakharyan, who comes with a release clause of around £12.6m, and have remained in contact with all relevant authorities in an attempt to conclude a transfer.

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Talks have been held between Chelsea and FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League to try and find a way to work within the current rules regarding dealing with Russian clubs, with Blues co-owner Todd Boehly still very keen to get a deal done.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

In Moscow, club director Gafin has conceded that talks with Chelsea could reignite in January.

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“We cannot rule out the resumption of history with Chelsea in winter, I cannot comment on the information that appears and will appear,” he told TASS.

Gafin was, however, quick to question claims that Zakharyan has already agreed personal terms with Chelsea, insisting Dynamo Moscow have not given the club permission to speak with the Russia international just yet.

“Regarding his alleged contract with Chelsea, we don’t know anything about this, we did not give permission for such contacts,” he said. “I think this is from the rumour mill.”



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Antonee Robinson praises career revival of USMNT & Fulham teammate Tim Ream

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United States Men’s National Team full-back Antonee Robinson has heaped praise on his club and international teammate Tim Ream for his late-career renaissance.

At 35 years old, Ream has gone from being on the outside of the USMNT setup, picking up just one cap in 2020, to being a rock at the heart of Gregg Berhalter’s defense in Qatar.

Ream’s revival has been thanks to his incredible form in the Premier League with Fulham, with the veteran center-back coming first among his teammates in a number of key metrics so far, such as interceptions (21), blocks (23), clearances (50), and passes completed (715).

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The man next to him both at club and international level, Robinson, has enjoyed Ream’s career turnaround firsthand and has revealed just how much it means to him.

“The standard that [Ream] has been at, it’s been amazing,” Robinson told ESPN. “He’s such a calming presence on the ball. It’s no shock to me. I’ve played with him for a long-enough time now to know what he’s all about. But to see him actually come out on this stage, when it was at one point looking like he wouldn’t be here, and raise his level even more than he has done already this season, it means a lot to me.”

Ream and the USMNT have a great chance to reach the World Cup knockout stages when they face Iran on Tuesday, with a victory enough to see them finish at least second in Group B. Anything less and they’ll find themselves on the next plane home from Qatar and planning for their 2026 campaign as co-hosts.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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