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Conte backs Holland's England move

Press Association logoPress Association 22/12/2016

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has expressed regret at Steve Holland's decision to leave but understands his wish to be England assistant boss.

Holland was appointed assistant to England manager Gareth Southgate on Wednesday. He will continue to work at Chelsea until the end of the season and then leave Stamford Bridge.

The 46-year-old has been at Chelsea since 2009 and a constant in the coaching set-up despite the managerial turnover.

"It's a pity to lose him," former Italy coach Conte said on Thursday.

"But also I can understand him for this choice, because this type of situation can arrive only once in life, to be a coach or assistant coach of your national team or your country.

"He's helping me a lot in my experience in Chelsea because he has great experience with this club."

Conte declined to say whether Holland would be replaced, preferring to focus on the task at hand with Chelsea six points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of Monday's Boxing Day clash with Bournemouth.

"Now, I think also for Steve, (it is important) to be focused on this season, because this season is very important for us and Steve is a very good professional," Conte added.

"It's important to be focused on the present. I have a great staff, a fantastic staff. There is a great spirit. The future, we'll see."

Chelsea will be without star striker Diego Costa for the match with Bournemouth due to a suspension.

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