LONDON (Reuters) - Gary Cahill could return for Chelsea’s crucial Premier League home game against Southampton on Tuesday after illness kept him out of the weekend’s FA Cup semi-final win over title rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea coped well in central Cahill’s absence with Nathan Ake deputising in a 4-2 win that maintained their hopes of the league and Cup ‘double’.
They have a quick turnaround before a league game that gives them the chance to open a seven-point lead over Tottenham who play Crystal Palace 24 hours later.
”Gary trained yesterday and also today,“ Conte said. ”It is normal to check his condition and I want to speak very well with him tomorrow before I take the decision.
“I am very happy if he is able to play tomorrow but also I want to underline Nathan Ake’s performance (against Spurs). I was pleased for his performance. He played a really good game and he is very important for us.”
Conte was perplexed by a fixture list that has fallen in Tottenham’s favour this week.
Chelsea face a Southampton side who have had 10 days to prepare while Tottenham, who have the benefit of one more day of rest than Chelsea, play a Palace side who were in action on Sunday against Liverpool.
Conte began against Tottenham with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench -- a decision made partly with one eye on this week’s league games against Southampton and Everton.
Despite his concerns, however, the Italian said Chelsea would have plenty in the tank.
“I have another day to decide our best eleven but they are in good condition and in good form, and for sure tomorrow I hope to see a good performance from all my players,” he said.
“When you have to play this type of game, it is very important to try to find the best solution, to give the right balance in our squad to play these games in these few days...”
“But we have trained very well this season and we have a lot of energy to face this type situation,” Conte added.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Gareth Jones