Antonio Conte has confirmed Cesc Fabregas is in contention for selection ahead of Sunday’s match against Middlesbrough and insists the Spain international has a long-term future at Chelsea.
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Fabregas has been reduced to a bit-part role since Conte was appointed as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor in the summer and has started just a solitary Premier League game so far this season.
The former Arsenal captain has seen his place in the Chelsea engine room taken by summer signing N’Golo Kante, while the return to form of both Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard has resulted in him spending most of the season on the substitutes’ bench.
Fabregas has, however, recovered from a muscle injury which ruled him out of Chelsea’s previous two matches and Conte insists he remains part of his plans amid rumours he could be set for a January exit.
“Oscar’s future is Chelsea, full stop,” Conte said. “For me, Oscar is an important player in the squad. He’s in good form. It’s logical I have to take the starting XI every week, but Oscar is a great player. For me, he stays at Chelsea.
“It’s important that this message arrives for all. But Oscar will stay with us because I consider him an important player for Chelsea.”
On Fabregas, Conte added with a smile: “The same speech as for Oscar. I anticipate this question.”