Antonio Conte tells

Antonio Conte told his Chelsea players to stop behaving like children as they returned to training after their mini-break.

The Italian issued a strong message to exert his authority having granted his squad three days off following their crushing 4-1 defeat at Watford on Monday.

The Chelsea manager addressed his players before a session in preparation for Monday’s game against West Bromwich Albion, the first of three vital home games.

He later stressed he was not prepared to quit as doubts swirled about his future amid a terrible run of results.

Conte hopes defender Andreas Christensen will be fit to face West Brom after missing the loss at Watford with a hamstring injury.

But he admitted there is no sign of £70million man Alvaro Morata returning from a mysterious back problem, and the striker could miss the rest of the season.

‘I don’t know how long he will be out,’ said Conte. ‘We are struggling to solve the pain in his back. If you  ask me whether he needs a day, a month or the rest of the season, I don’t know. For this reason, I am a bit worried.

‘Players like Morata, for us, are very important and have been missing for a long period of time. We are talking a lot about bad results and forget we are facing a serious situation.’

Morata has not appeared since a red card against Norwich in the FA Cup on January 17 and has not scored since Boxing Day.

His return to fitness has been affected by the death of a friend and he was allowed time off to return to Spain.

But the striker has further complicated matters by admitting he would consider a return to Real Madrid.

When asked if he would be keen on a reunion if his former side made contact, Morata said: ‘I have to respect Chelsea who have made a great effort for me. And I’m very happy here. But Madrid is always Madrid.’

Conte did not wish to explain why the club sent Michy Batshuayi on loan to Dortmund amid deepening concerns about Morata’s injury.

‘Now the transfer market is finished,’ said Conte. ‘We took a decision and we have to focus on the present to finish the season in the best way possible.’

Christensen, who trained away from the team on Friday, has become crucial to the balance of Conte’s side.

Without his pace and composure at the back, Chelsea conceded seven goals in two games against Bournemouth and Watford.

‘I hope to count on him for the game against West Brom,’ said Conte. ‘He is an important player and he is having a fantastic season.’

The Watford defeat intensified the speculation around Conte’s future. But he said: ‘I am not thinking for one moment about going away from this club. I repeat: my commitment is totally for this club, like that of my players.’

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