Antonio Conte fumes about Danny Drinkwater situation at Chelsea
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte lifts the lid on the misunderstanding between himself and Gareth Southgate over Danny Drinkwater
Antonio Conte has admitted that he was not at all happy about the “misunderstanding” surrounding Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater’s involvement with England during the recent international break.
England boss Gareth Southgate claimed that Drinkwater rejected the call-up to the national team for the recent round of international friendly fixtures.
The Chelsea midfielder, who signed for the Blues from Leicester City in the summer transfer window, was then heavily criticised for his apparent snub of the Three Lions.
However, Conte has leapt to the defence of the midfielder by insisting that Southgate should have spoken directly to him about the issue, as he said that Drinkwater was not fit to feature for England.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of Chelsea’s trip to West Brom on Saturday, Conte said: “Sometimes there is a way, which is very easy, to try to call the coach before and to ask ‘is it OK, I can do this? Is this player good or does he have a problem? Is he tired or not?’
“I am telling you this because I was coach for the national team. In this way you can avoid a misunderstanding because about Drinkwater it was a misunderstanding.
“He was injured and also he wasn’t really 100 per cent fit to go with the national team.
“If someone asks me I can explain and if the coach wants to take the same decision it is ok, but it is important to have more relationship between the coach and the coach of the national team.
“It was the same for us with Eden Hazard (in late August when he was returning to fitness from a fractured ankle).
“Then I spoke with (Belgium coach) Roberto Martinez, I said yes and then he played.
“I am ready to help every single national team coach because I had this fantastic experience and I understand very well the problems.
“I am more open than before when I was the coach of Juventus but sometimes there isn’t the communication.”
Drinkwater will be hoping that his injury struggles are behind him as he looks to help Chelsea get their Premier League title bid back on track in the weeks leading up to the hectic festive schedule.
Chelsea are aiming to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League and also climb the table heading into the new year.
The Blues return to Champions League action on Wednesday night when they take on Qarabag in the group stage.