Chelsea's Antonio Conte dismisses Italy links, wants to finish contract

LONDON -- Antonio Conte insisted that he has no interest in leaving Chelsea before the end of his contract to begin a second spell in charge of the Italy national team.

Wednesday's shock 3-0 loss at home to Bournemouth prompted fresh speculation about Conte's future at Stamford Bridge, after months of mounting tensions between him and the Chelsea board over transfer policy.

Newly appointed Italian Football Association (FIGC) extraordinary commissioner Roberto Fabbricini and vice-chairman Alessandro Costacurta also signalled their intention to travel to London and talk to the Chelsea head coach about succeeding the sacked Gian Piero Ventura as Italy boss.

But when asked about Costacurta's comments on Friday, Conte said: "I can [say] that Costacurta is a friend. We played together in the national team in 1994, but maybe he forgot I still have 18 months of contract with Chelsea. My intention, my will, my desire is to respect this contract.

"I think from the start of this season there are a lot of speculation and rumours. The only thing that I can say now is that I have 18 months left and my will and desire is to stay here and do my work. I don't see problems about this.

"I don't know why [I have been linked]. My intention and will is to respect the contract. We signed three years and that is my will to respect the contract. From the start of the season if you remember there were a lot of speculations to be sacked. I am not interested in this and my only desire is to do my work.

"We know very well the difficulty. We must be prepared and we know very well which is our path of this future."

Asked if he plans to speak to Costacurta, Conte said: "No. I must be honest. No."

Conte's more immediate concern is Chelsea's mounting injury list. Andreas Christensen limped out of the Bournemouth match with a hamstring injury and is unavailable for Monday's clash against Watford, while Alvaro Morata remains sidelined with a lingering back problem.

David Luiz (ankle) and Willian (hamstring) could be back in contention for the trip to Vicarage Road. The arrivals of Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmieri in the final days of the January transfer window have bolstered Conte's squad, but he indicated that both will need time to regain full fitness.

"We have to wait," he said of Giroud and Emerson. "Don't forget especially for Emerson we are talking about a player coming from a bad injury. Olivier is coming from a muscular injury. He was out for 50 days before coming back for 15 minutes against Swansea.

"We have to make the best decision and then to work with them, because it is important to adapt themselves with our idea of football."

Pressed on Giroud's availability, he added: "We are starting to work with him but we have to check his physical condition. It is difficult to see him start."