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Nathan Aké

'He looks like a veteran!' - Conte backs Ake to replace injured Luiz

9:52 PM SGT 1/5/17
Nathan Ake
The 22-year-old has had to settle for a place on the bench since his return to Stamford Bridge but his manager has backed him to succeed if needed

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has backed Nathan Ake to fill David Luiz's place in the team should the Brazilian fail to recover in time for the Blues' home tie against Middlesbrough next Monday.

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Luiz was forced off in the closing stages in Chelsea's trip to Everton at the weekend and was replaced by Ake for the final eight minutes.

And should Luiz have to spend time on the sideline, Conte believes Ake can fill the void, though he is hoping it will not be necessary.

"I didn't speak with the doctor about his [Luiz's] injury but I don't think it is a serious for him," he said.

"I hope in the next game that he is available to play. Also now in this part of the season, it is important sometimes to try to play if you are not 100 per cent with your condition.

"Ake is showing us great commitment in this season. Don't forget his injury in the knee after the game against City - but I am very pleased with the impact of Ake in the Everton game.

"He came on and I think he looks a veteran and it is great.

"He is only a young player that started to play for two years, Watford and Bournemouth, and now is showing great commitment, work-rate and concentration when I ask him to play. It is great for him.

Ake spent the early part of the season on loan at Bournemouth, making 10 Premier League appearances, but was recalled by Conte in January and has had to settle for a place on the Chelsea bench ever since.

The 22-year-old's patience was rewarded with 90 minutes in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham last month, however, and his manager has again stressed his importance to the team as the campaign enters the final handful of games.

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"It is not easy to be used to play every game for Bournemouth and to arrive at Chelsea and stay on the bench and sometimes understand," Conte added.

"But I think he understood I trust him because I put him in the semi-final against Tottenham."