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Playing without N'Golo isn't simple – Conte eager for Kante return

Antonio Conte feels Chelsea have not found it easy to play without N'Golo Kante and is looking forward to being able to call upon the influential midfielder again.

Kante has not played for Chelsea since the 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge to Manchester City on September 30, with the 26-year-old picking up a hamstring injury on international duty with France.

The former Leicester City star is not expected to feature at Bournemouth on Saturday, but he is likely to be involved in some capacity against Roma ahead of next weekend's clash with Manchester United.

And Conte is happy about the prospect of Kante's spell on the sidelines coming to an end very soon.

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"For sure, it is not simple to play without N'Golo because he is an important player for us," Conte told reporters in his pre-match news conference.

"Now I think that the team is used to playing without him, but I hope to see him back very soon with us.

"There are players with the same characteristics, but N'Golo is a really good player. He is becoming a top player for his characteristics, but in the world there are many players with the same characteristics.

"[Danny] Drinkwater is almost ready [too] and Kante is at the stage almost to come back with us. The only problem now that we have to face is that we need more time with [Victor] Moses."

Chelsea have not been quite at their best this season and sit nine points behind Premier League pacesetters Manchester City after nine matches.

But Conte does not think this is the toughest period he has endured with the Blues.

He said: "It was tougher at the start because to arrive in a new country, to adapt yourself with a new type of football, new language, new habits - it wasn't easy.

"I found a situation with a lot of troubles and I found a [difficult] situation after 10 games, I found a lot of troubles and last season I tried to solve these problems. I think I solved a lot of problems.

"Don't forget that season we won [the title], but not one person predicted this of our squad after our transfer window at the start of the season.

"I think we did a really fantastic job last season, but now we have to try to continue in this way and continue to work and continue to try and solve the problems, to create something important for the club."