Conte silent on Costa and Matic
Chelsea boss brushes off questions on duo, prefers to talk about new signing Morata
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte spoke on a wide range of topics when he faced the media yesterday, ahead of tonight's International Champions Cup (ICC) Singapore opener against Bayern Munich.
The Italian gave an update on the gruesome injury picked up by winger Pedro Rodriguez, shared his thoughts on new striker Alvaro Morata and travelling to the Far East for a pre-season tour, and even hinted at a possible transfer target.
But, when asked about misfits Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic, the 47-year-old revealed little.
The duo were key components in Conte's title-winning side last season, but were left out of the squad that travelled to Singapore.
Striker Costa has been heavily linked with a move back to Atletico Madrid, while midfielder Matic is said to be on the verge of a move to English Premier League rivals Manchester United.
When asked about Matic, Conte would only say: "I don't like to speak about players who are not here with us."
Later, the Blues boss was asked about why he was willing to let Costa - Chelsea's top-scorer last season with 20 league goals - leave the club, and what he hoped Costa's replacement, £70-million (S$124m) signing Morata from Real Madrid, could bring to the team.
"I speak (only) about Morata," replied Conte.
"Morata is a young player, but he has a lot of experience because he has played for two big teams in Real and Juventus.
"He has played big games in the Champions League and won it last season... He can make a good impact in the EPL.
"For sure, the EPL is different to the leagues in other countries because physically it is very tough, but Morata is ready."
Conte also confirmed that Morata will play some part of tonight's game against Bayern, although the Spaniard will only make a cameo off the bench.
Yesterday, local fans got to catch a glimpse of what the 24-year-old Spain international can do in an open training session at the National Stadium.
In attendance were about 150 Chelsea supporters and about 20 young boys from the ActiveSG Football Academy and SportCares programme.
SERIOUS HEAD INJURY
Perhaps Conte wanted to test his new signing, pitting Morata against Chelsea No. 1 Thibaut Courtois and a backline marshalled by Blues stalwart Gary Cahill in a two-sided game.
Morata did not always hit the right notes, missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities, but some of his teammates looked far more comfortable in the warm and humid surroundings.
Last season's Premier League Player of the Year N'Golo Kante, unsurprisingly, was one of them.
The 26-year-old France international was at his indefatigable best, covering every blade of grass and showed he was adept going forward as well, putting away some deft finishes past Chelsea's new back-up shot-stopper Willy Caballero.
Midfielder Willian and striker Michy Batshuayi, scorers in the 3-0 win over Arsenal in the Beijing leg of the ICC last week, continued their hot streak, lashing home shots for fun.
One player who will definitely not play any part of the Singapore leg of the ICC is Pedro.
The former Barcelona man had suffered a serious head injury after being clattered by Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina last week.
"About Pedro, the situation was more serious than I thought," said Conte.
"I hoped he (sustained) only a concussion... Instead, he has multiple fractures.
"But, with a (protective) mask and 10 days (recovery), he can come back to work with us."