Conte hoping 'important' Christensen can return against West Brom

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The Blues boss has praised his young defender while shrugging off any suggestions that David Luiz was unfit last week

Antonio Conte has backed Andreas Christensen, who looks likely to return to the side against West Bromwich Albion on Monday after David Luiz struggled against Watford

Luiz was out for two weeks after picking up an ankle injury in training, and looked off the pace in his return against the Hornets after losing the ball on 19 occasions and only winning 22 per cent of his duels. 

Meanwhile, Chelsea have been missing Christensen as they conceded seven goals in less than two games after he left the January 31 loss to Bournemouth with a hamstring injury. 

Conte admitted that the 21-year-old Denmark international has become a key player.   

“For sure, he's an important player for us. He's an important player," Conte said to journalists at a news conference at Cobham Training Ground. "It's right to look at the stats, but we have to take the stats in the right way.

"But, for sure, Christensen is an important player for us. He's playing a fantastic season. Christensen didn't train today with us. Honestly, I hope to count on him for the game against West Brom because he's an important player for us.

“I don't know. It happened in the last two games. I don't know why. But it happened. We didn't concede many goals in the past when Christensen played.”

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Meanwhile, Chelsea appear to have moved on from Luiz after the Brazil international's return and star performances helped them win the title last season. 

Conte thinks that Luiz's poor display against Watford wasn't due to a lack of fitness as he aims to avert a crisis with a win on Monday.

“He will be in contention, but I don't know [if he will start the game]." Conte said of Luiz. “Yes, he was fit. 100 per cent.”