Antonio Conte Admits Chelsea Have Struggled Without N'Golo Kante During Injury Lay-Off

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has bemoaned the loss of N'Golo Kante to injury, admitting that his side have struggled in the Frenchman's absence. 

A hamstring injury picked up on international duty has seen the all-action midfielder miss the Blues' last four games in all competitions, with Crystal Palace recording a shock win over the reigning champions and Roma putting three goals past them in the Champions League. 

The west London side travel to Bournemouth on Saturday for the afternoon's late kick-off, and will be without last season's PFA Player of the Year once again - with Conte admitting in his pre-match press conference that things were made trickier in his absence. 

"For sure it is not simple," he said. "For us to play without N'Golo because he is an important player for us but now the team is used to playing without him but I hope to see him back very soon with us."

When quizzed on which players in world football could feature in Kante's role, Conte took the opportunity to lavish praise on his star man, saying: "There are players with the same characteristics but N'Golo is a really good player. He is becoming a top player for his characteristics but in the world there are many players with the same characteristics."

While the Blues' midfield will be lacking numbers at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, the Italian added: "N'Golo is mostly ready. We must wait but I hope to have him back for the Rome game. Danny [Drinkwater] played against Everton but for sure he must find the right physical condition. The others are available."