Conte Hails Barkley’s Fitness Level

Antonio Conte has been left surprised by how quick Ross Barkley has regained his fitness, following a long-term injury layoff.

The former Everton man joined Chelsea for £15 million and was sidelined for eight months with hamstring problem.

Barkley was close to joining Chelsea in the offseason, but that deal fell through due to fitness issues.

“No, I thought I’d find a player who was not in good physical condition,” Conte said to reporters at Cobham Training Ground. “Instead, I was surprised to find a player in good physical condition. Yes, yes, a positive surprise. You saw that during the Arsenal game. He played.

“He was my first substitution after the Willian injury. My worry is not about his physical condition, but only to go into our idea of football, to understand the movement without the ball and with the ball. For this, he needs a bit of period to go into our idea of football. To understand this.

“My worry is not about his physical condition, but to get into our idea of football. Every player is desperate to play every game. I have to try to make the best decision for the team. Sometimes I’m forced to take decisions.

“But, I repeat, in this case I’m very happy. In my mind I thought that his physical condition was worse than the situation I found (when he came). When you arrive from a bad injury and didn’t play for six months, it’s not simple to recover very well the best form.

“But my players are working very well and I gave him the chance in the Carabao Cup against Arsenal, maybe because I was forced to do this. In a normal situation, I’d take more time with him. But the player is working very well. The player is working to come into our idea of football.

“Tomorrow I don’t know, but tomorrow he could be in contention to play. For sure, we have to put a part of the risk to push the player, to push the player to come into the team quickly. Because we need to do this. When you have Morata and Willian out through injury, we don’t have many solutions.

“I’m very happy because the player has great potentiality, and for sure he’s changing his way to play. Now he has to think, to think with the ball and without the ball.”


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