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It’s difficult to replace Mikel – Conte

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Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, has admitted that it will be difficult to find a replacement for Nigeria captain, Mikel Obi, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.

Mikel and Serbian defender, Ivanovic left the Stanford Bridge outfit for Chinese Super League club, Tianjin Teda and Russian top club Zenit respectively in the January transfer window.

Also captain Terry will call it quit with Chelsea at the end of the running season.

While addressing pressmen during Friday’s conference ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium, Conte stated that rebuilding the squad following the departures of the three players is a big task.

Conte said, “My situation is different from Carlo Ancelotti’s first season at Chelsea as now we are building the foundations.

“It is not easy to find replacements for the likes of Ivanovic, Mikel and Terry. That is why I speak of building.”

The Italian gaffer further described Tottenham as one of the power houses of English football.

“Tottenham are a great power in English football. It is the right moment for them to stop feeling the underdog,” he said.

The former Juventus coach then gave updates on players’ fitness.

“Thibaut Courtois has recovered from his injury and he has trained this week,” Conte revealed.

“This period is not a lucky one as in training on Tuesday, Gary Cahill had a bit of fever.

“Cahill was sent to hospital by the doctor for checks. It is not a serious problem but it will be difficult to play tomorrow.”

On the death of Ugo Ehiogu, Conte said, “I will like to send my condolences and the players to Ugo Ehiogu’s family.

“There will be a strange atmosphere at the game tomorrow due to the sad news.”

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