Antonio Conte has joked that he will tell Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater to not kick Eden Hazard when England play Belgium at next year’s World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s side have been drawn with Roberto Martinez’s team in Russia, with the fixture set to be England’s final Group G game on Thursday 28 June after facing Tunisia and Panama.
Cahill is expected to make the England squad for the World Cup finals – with Drinkwater’s inclusion more of a question – but should they both travel to Russia, they will come up against Belgian star Hazard.
The forward netted twice to help Chelsea come from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
And when Conte was asked about what advice he could give England to stop Hazard at next summer’s tournament, the Chelsea boss told reporters: “There is Cahill and Danny [Drinkwater].
“I have to speak with Cahill and Danny and tell them to avoid to give the kicks to Eden.”
When then asked whether Cahill and Drinkwater have been able to stop Hazard in training before, Conte replied: “For sure every day to have the training session with this player will make you stronger. “Gary knows very well Hazard’s skill, for this reason he must pay great attention.”
He added: “I saw yesterday the draw and England Belgium are in the same group at the World Cup. There are two teams to qualify for the next round.
“England and Belgium are favourite to do this in the World Cup. It will be special to see this game, England against Belgium, if I have the possibility I would like to watch this game.”
Drinkwater declined Southgate’s call-up for England’s friendlies against Germany and Brazil in November after taking a knock to his calf during Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester United, although the Three Lions boss had originally said it was because the midfielder didn’t feel he was fit enough to play.
Drinkwater has impressed since recovering, putting in a positive display against Newcastle on Saturday.
And Conte believes the midfielder has every chance of making the World Cup, saying: “I think it is normal to have the right chance. He is starting to play with Chelsea, a great team.
“Danny today started the game, like the team, a bit slow but then he improved a lot. It is great for me and great for the team to have another option, especially when we play with three midfielders, to have another option is a vital importance.”