Conte keen to strengthen Chelsea squad in January window

Dec 21 (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said he is happy to continue with the squad he has but will explore the possibility of bringing in players in the January transfer window to boost their challenge in multiple competitions.

The Italian had appeared underwhelmed by Chelsea’s squad-strenghtening earlier in the season, with the added pressure of Champions League matches stretching his resources.

Although the champions have lost once in the last 10 league games, they find themselves 14 points behind leaders Manchester City. With Chelsea keen to challenge in Europe after reaching the last 16, Conte is aware of the need to add to his squad.

“I prefer to talk with the club to try to find the best solution for the team and if there is the possibility to improve the squad under a numerical aspect it will be a good choice,” Conte said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Everton.

“But at the same time I’m enjoying these players… At this moment I’m ready to continue to play with these players because they are showing me great commitment and great behaviour.

“If there is the possibility to improve our squad I think the club will try to do this.”

Striker Alvaro Morata is suspended after picking up a yellow card for celebrating his winning goal against Bournemouth in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final by tucking the ball under his shirt and sucking his thumb.

Morata’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child.

“It’s a big loss for us… I must be honest, at that moment we were enjoying the goal and I didn’t see the situation. I knew he celebrated with the ball under the shirt,” Conte said.

“It’s important to see what happened. If the referee booked him only for putting the ball under his shirt, I think it’s a pity… because it’s a celebration and you are showing your joy. The referee judged it in a different way.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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