Why Chelsea defender Rudiger has been frozen out by manager Conte

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The Blues defender has been given a frosty response from his head coach after a post-match interview where he seemingly questioned his tactics

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte left out Antonio Rudiger for his side's 3-2 win at Southampton as punishment for his tactical criticism of his side's collapse at Stamford Bridge last weekend against West Ham United.

The Germany international, 25, had been one of Chelsea's top performers before he was left out of Saturday's comeback victory, with Gary Cahill starting alongside Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Rudiger is understood not to have been rested for a midweek match against Burnley and an FA Cup semi-final, nor is he carrying any injury.

Conte was happy that his players showed "great heart" to comeback, but gave a frosty response about Rudiger's omission from the matchday squad.

"No [there is no injury], it was a tactical decision," Conte told reporters at St Mary's Stadium.

This came just a week after Rudiger's comments appeared to call into question Chelsea's ability to see out games, after Javier Hernandez's goal denied them another win last week.

"I think in the second half we [could] finish the game [off]," Rudiger said last week. "But like the last few months, we didn't and we [conceded].

"For me, it's not easy to explain. I don't understand why after 1-0 we always drop and let the opponent get more ball possession."

David Luiz could miss the rest of the season through a knee injury, while Ethan Ampadu is certain to not play again. This might see Conte quickly reintroduce him back into the fold after this weekend's absence.

Meanwhile, Southampton manager Mark Hughes was unhappy that Marcos Alonso had escaped a red card after a high boot caught Shane Long on the back of his calf at the end of the first half.

The Southampton manager faces Chelsea again next Sunday in the FA Cup and has called for the player to receive a retrospective ban, after referee Mike Dean appeared to miss the incident.

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"It was a poor challenge, a really poor challenge," Hughes said. "It should have been a red card, clearly. I am disappointed that the officials didn't see it. They were all within a 10 or 15 metre radius. I think between the referee, linesman or fourth official that one of them should have seen it.

"It was a poor tackle, it was a tackle that thankfully had no drastic consequences for Shane. Thankfully he is okay, he just got a rake down the calf. Clearly, with Chelsea down to 10 men and us in first half on the ascendancy, it is a slant on the game really.

"Those are key moments and referees have got to get them right, maybe that's why the [Premier League] referees are not at the World Cup this year."

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