Call the doctor! Conte protests no malice in David Luiz absence

Injury and nothing more is keeping David Luiz out of the Chelsea team says Antonio Conte, who wants the club doctor to back him up.

David Luiz and Antonio Conte embrace.   -  Getty Images

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte refuted suggestions he is not telling the full story over David Luiz's prolonged absence from the first-team picture.

David Luiz has not played for the Premier League champions since a dreadful performance in the dismal 3-0 Champions League loss at Roma at the end of October – a result that contributed towards Conte's men coming second in their group and being lumbered with a last-16 tie against Barcelona

The Brazil defender was dropped for the subsequent 1-0 win against Manchester United and Conte challenged him to work hard to regain a spot.

A knee injury has since complicated matters, with Conte on Friday describing the inflammation suffered by David Luiz as a "serious" problem.

The exasperated former Juventus boss then told reporters he would be as well calling Chelsea's club doctor into a news briefing, insisting any notion of a personality clash has nothing to do with the 30-year-old's on-going spell in the wilderness.

"To stop this, I think it's right to call the doctor and to have a conference with the doctor," he said. "I think this is a good idea.

"I understand that someone is thinking that I'm not telling the truth. I'm disappointed about this, but I can understand it. I'm disappointed because I like to tell you the truth at every moment.

"I'd like to tell you a bad truth rather than a good lie. I think we can call the doctor and organise a conference with the doctor for him to explain the medical situation of all my players and, in this way, I can avoid having to answer this question.

"Avoid the creation of this atmosphere of 'it's not true what he's telling us'. I am disappointed about this, but I will try to solve the situation."

Chelsea entertain Southampton on Saturday, looking to build on a stylish 3-1 midweek win at Huddersfield Town.

They remain 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, a deficit that prompted Conte to describe his team's prospects of a title defence as "bull****".

The Italian's apparent dissatisfaction with Chelsea's pre-season business contrasted with a largely slick approach to the window from City, who finished 15 points behind Chelsea last term.

"I don't know about this [being decisive]," he said. "For sure, Manchester City improved a lot, improved their team a lot.

"But when you buy players like Ederson, a top goalkeeper, then [Kyle] Walker, then [Benjamin] Mendy, then Bernardo Silva, then Danilo... for sure you improve your squad, improve your quality in your squad.

"Especially, I repeat, if you are able to take the first targets. Every club has their own strategy."

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