Chelsea V Southampton at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

24 April 2017

Antonio Conte wants Eden Hazard to continue putting Chelsea team first

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte wants Eden Hazard to continue to put the team before himself.

The Belgium playmaker made a decisive impact as a substitute as Chelsea beat Tottenham 4-2 in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final.

Hazard has been a key figure in Chelsea's bid for a possible double and netted his 15th goal of the season against Spurs, who are four points behind the Premier League leaders with six games to go.

And afterwards Cesc Fabregas stated his belief that Hazard was second in ability only to Barcelona's Lionel Messi and can improve if he is more "selfish" and shows a greater "killer instinct".

But Conte reckons players can only be great by playing as part of a team.

"The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent in the team," Conte said. "I don't think that a player like Messi is a selfish player.

"The best players in the world don't exist without the team.

"For me, it's sad when I listen to this, that one player must be more selfish to reach the top level. This is not my idea of football. I never will understand this. Never.

"In my team I don't want selfish players. I prefer to lose a game, than to have a selfish player.

"I don't want this, I can't accept this. I don't want my club to one day buy me a selfish player, never."

The Blues could complete the double in Conte's first season in charge after advancing to the May 27 final, where they will face Arsenal.

But they need to respond from two losses in their last four Premier League matches, to Crystal Palace and Manchester United, beginning at home to Southampton on Tuesday night.

And Conte is uncertain if his team have struck a psychological blow by beating Spurs.

"Honestly, I don't know," Conte said. "I think for us it was important this win. You reach the final in the FA Cup, a great competition. And for us it's great.

"It's great to know when after a week we finish the championship we have to play a final in the FA Cup.

"These are two different competitions and we have six games to go. It's important to start this rush (of fixtures) very well, to try to keep these four points (the lead)."

Defender Gary Cahill is Chelsea's only doubt for the game.

Meanwhile, Claude Puel believes Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu is "not far off" the standard of newly-crowned PFA player of the year N'Golo Kante.

Kante has become one of the most influential midfielders in the division, playing a huge role in Leicester's memorable title win last season and looking good for a second successive championship, this time with Chelsea.

Romeu, on the other hand, is now one of Saints' most influential players, performing in the defensive midfield anchorman role admirably following Victor Wanyama's summer departure to Tottenham.

The 25-year-old Spaniard came through the ranks at Barcelona before moving to Stamford Bridge in 2011. He was on the Chelsea books for four years but spent time on loan with Valencia and Stuttgart.

Puel has compared Romeu, who is expected to start against his former club after missing Saints' last two games through suspension, to Kante and the manager feels both men are almost equals in terms of quality.

"I think he's not far off Kante," Puel said at his pre-match press conference. "He is very important for us. He recovers the ball so well and is a technical player.

"If we see the quality of his games since the beginning of the season, N'Golo Kante brings the same qualities as Oriol for us because he's very consistent and in every game he gives good performances, with consistency and quality.

"He's an important player for this team because he can do fantastic work to recover the ball and start the play.

"Without (Kante) for Chelsea it's difficult and the same with Romeu, it's difficult for us without him.

"We will see for the future, we are confident in him and, for me, he can look to getting in the selection with Spain, for example."

Matt Targett and Charlie Austin will return to training this week after recovering from respective hamstring and shoulder injuries, but neither is available for the trip.

Sam McQueen is doubtful after sustaining a groin injury, while Virgil van Dijk (foot) and Alex McCarthy (hamstring) remain absent.