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Conte won't rush Giroud into Chelsea side

Olivier Giroud may have to bide his time before featuring for Chelsea's first team while Alvaro Morata remains sidelined.

NEWS
02 Feb 2018, 20:17 IST
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Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud made his final Arsenal appearance on Tuesday

Antonio Conte says "it won't be easy" for Olivier Giroud to make his Chelsea debut at Watford on Monday.

Conte finally got his wish for a physical centre-forward on Wednesday with the capture of Giroud from Arsenal after a month-long pursuit that saw the Premier League champions linked with the likes of Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes and even Peter Crouch.

But the France international arrives with little game time under his belt after a hamstring injury disrupted his final few weeks at the Emirates Stadium prior to a 15-minute cameo at Swansea City in midweek.

Conte said: "We are starting to work with him and we have to check his physical condition. For sure, it won't be easy to see him in the starting 11 on Monday.

"Olivier is coming back from a muscular injury and was out for 50 days before playing 15 minutes against Swansea."

Asked if that might tempt him to hasten Alvaro Morata's return from injury, Conte added: "Don't forget that maybe Willian will be able [to play]. That would give me an opportunity to change in a way I didn't against Bournemouth.

"Alvaro is still out. I hope to be able to solve his situation. For a problem in his back, he's missing a lot of games, and this is not a good situation for me or the team. I hope in the future that the medical department is able to solve this situation."

Defender Andreas Christensen limped out of the 3-0 thrashing by Bournemouth on Wednesday and is another who will miss the short trip to Vicarage Road.

"The first clinical examination was positive, but we have to wait," Conte said.

"For sure he's out against Watford, and then I have a couple of other situations for the game against Watford. Today is Friday. We have two and a half days."

Conte, who reiterated his claim that merely finishing in the top four would represent a "great success" for the defending Premier League champions, is expecting Giroud to make an impact when he is fully fit, while there is less expectation on fellow new arrival, Emerson Palmieri.

He said: "About Giroud, we're talking about an international player with a lot of experience. A player who plays for the national team. He is 31 years old, we are not talking about a young player.

"For this reason, our expectation is for him to help us. Also, because I asked for this type of player, with his characteristics, from my club. And the club gave me this opportunity with Giroud.

"About Emerson Palmieri, we are talking about a player who is coming back from a bad injury. He has played only one game, in the Italian Cup against Torino.

"He's a young player without great international experience. He played only last season with Roma, and played very well. Then he had a bad injury.

"For sure, he's an option to Marcos Alonso. I think that's good for us, and he has to recover very well. But whoever deserves to play - and this is our rule in the changing-room - he plays. If a player deserves to play, he does. It's not his reputation. It's how he does in training."

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