Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has refuted recent rumours that there is growing unrest in his squad over a demanding training schedule, while also declaring that he is not scared or fearful of the difficulties that are facing the club after a challenging start to the season.
"I don't know about this," was Conte's response to the speculation when the subject was raised during his press conference ahead of the weekend's clash with Watford (BBC Sport).
Having cruised to the Premier League title in record breaking fashion last season, thanks largely to a winning run that began in early October, Chelsea now trail early pace setters Manchester City by as many as nine points just eight games into the new campaign.
A much busier fixture list and a handful of injuries, where last season there were hardly any, have seen the reigning champions struggle to match their form of 12 months ago. Yet Conte is ready for the fight after previously overcoming other challenges in his career.
"I have a lot of experience as a player and a coach to face these type of situations," the Italian tactician is quoted as saying by Chelsea's official website.
"My history speaks very clearly. I am a person who is not afraid to face difficulties. I fought in the relegation zone. I started my career very badly in my first experience, but I understood and learned a lot from this," he added.
"You learn every day. You must be open to learn from your experiences. This is very important. If we think it's impossible to learn something, we are stupid people. I learn every day and I want to learn every day.
"For sure you hope to not have problems in your season, but I stay here to work and to put all myself for this club, for the players, me and my staff."