LONDON -- Antonio Conte has credited the "secret" methods implemented by his backroom team for Chelsea's relative lack of injuries this season, while admitting that luck has also played a role in the Blues' good health.
Only 18 different players have started a Premier League match under Conte this season and seven men -- Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, N'Golo Kante, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa -- have started at least 30 of Chelsea's 35 fixtures in the competition.
None of the key figures in the Blues' surge to the brink of the title have missed extended stretches of the campaign despite several -- including Courtois, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses -- picking up problems at different stages, and Conte believes his staff should take pride in this impressive record.
Asked why he has relied on such a small core of players this season, Conte replied: "We didn't have a lot of injuries this season. When you have this type of situation, without a lot of injuries, usually you try to play not with the same players, but to use 15 or 16 or 17 players.
"I think this season we worked very hard, but we are also very good and we are also very lucky."
Conte brought fitness coaches Julio Tous, Paolo Bertelli and Constantino Coratti as well as nutritionist Tiberio Ancora with him to Chelsea in July and implemented a gruelling preseason programme of double training sessions on arrival, as well as making sweeping changes to the nutritional regime of his squad.
But the former Juventus and Italy manager has also balanced intensive physical and tactical work with ample rest time for his players since the beginning of the season, often giving them two full days off after matches.
"My staff and I, we have a method," he added. "We created this method after my experience as a footballer and after my experience, in my career, as a manager. I tried to find the right solution of work with my players to have a good [fitness] for the whole season.
"All this season we worked very hard on the physical aspect, and the tactical aspect, to try to avoid this type of situation, to avoid having a lot of injuries. Our work is a bit of a secret because we don't have a lot of injuries. For this reason, I have to say thanks to my staff."
Conte often talks about the importance of his players "suffering together" during matches, and he believes it is "impossible" for a team to win trophies without being prepared to endure physical and mental adversity.
"When you work very hard, it's normal to suffer," the Chelsea boss insisted. "I've never seen a player who, during hard work, doesn't suffer. I think that when you suffer you become stronger and then you are ready to face every situation, above all problematic situations during games."