Antonio Conte hits out at England boss Gareth Southgate

England boss Gareth Southgate said Drinkwater rejected the call-up to the national team for the recent round of international friendly fixtures.

However, Conte has come to the defence of Drinkwater by saying that Southgate should have spoken directly to him about the issue, as he said that Drinkwater was not fully fit to feature for England.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Chelsea’s trip to West Brom on Saturday, Conte said: “Sometimes there is a way, which is very easy, to try to call the coach before and to ask ‘is it OK, I can do this? Is this player good or does he have a problem? Is he tired or not?’

“I am telling you this because I was coach for the national team. In this way you can avoid a misunderstanding because about Drinkwater it was a misunderstanding.

“He was injured and also he wasn’t really 100 per cent fit to go with the national team.

“If someone asks me I can explain and if the coach wants to take the same decision it is ok, but it is important to have more relationship between the coach and the coach of the national team.

“It was the same for us with Eden Hazard (in late August when he was returning to fitness from a fractured ankle).

“Then I spoke with (Belgium coach) Roberto Martinez, I said yes and then he played.

“I am ready to help every single national team coach because I had this fantastic experience and I understand very well the problems.

“I am more open than before when I was the coach of Juventus but sometimes there isn’t the communication.”

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