On-the-mend Kane one of the world's best - Conte

Harry Kane ranks among the best in the world for Antonio Conte, who feels his absence against Chelsea would be an obvious blow to Spurs.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane   -  Getty Images

Antonio Conte acknowledges Chelsea will be faced with one of the leading operators in world football if Harry Kane is able to return from an ankle injury for Tottenham on Sunday.

Chelsea host Spurs lying five points behind their London rivals in fifth, meaning Mauricio Pochettino's men would land a hammer blow against the reigning Premier League champions' designs on Champions League qualification by managing a first win at Stamford Bridge since February 1990.

Kane missed England's matches against Netherlands and Italy over the past week due to an ankle injury but Pochettino reported encouraging progress and would not entirely rule out the 24-year-old being involved.

Next weekend's trip to Stoke City would appear a more realistic target and Conte feels Kane's absence would leave an obvious void for Spurs in their crunch clash.

"I think that we are talking about one of the best strikers in the world. I consider him one of the best strikers in the world," the Italian told a pre-match news conference.

"When you have a striker to score every season 30 goals, for sure, you will miss this type of player. You will feel this.

"But at the same time, I think Tottenham is an important team because of the whole team. They have many important players and international players.

"They play good football with a great intensity. Also, in the past they showed that despite Kane being missing, in many games, nothing has changed."

A run of four defeats and two wins from the six Premier League games leading into the international break badly damaged Chelsea's hopes of a top-four spot.

Conte noted Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool – two points ahead of Spurs in third having played a game more than both London clubs – are the teams remaining in the fight but his own side's status would be severely compromised by failing to win this weekend.

"For sure, Sunday is an important game for us and if we win we will go very close to Tottenham," he said.

"Otherwise we continue to stay not so close and with seven games to go. It will be difficult to take a place in the Champions League.

"Nothing is impossible and also, I think in this group, I put Liverpool as well. For sure, for us we have to try to win, to win every game and not make a lot of mistakes – don't drop points. It will be very important in this last part of the season."

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (hamstring) and defender Andreas Christensen (fatigue) are doubts after they returned early from international duty with Belgium and Denmark respectively.

"In this moment for me it is very difficult to tell you accurately what my choice is for Sunday. We have to check these two situations," Conte said.

"For sure now we have two big problems – Courtois and Christensen - and we have to check their real possibility to play and then to play well."

David Luiz is expected to remain out for another three weeks with a knee problem, meaning club captain Gary Cahill is in line for a recall at the heart of defence.

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