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David Luiz faces battle to regain his Chelsea place, warns Antonio Conte

• Manager says Brazilian ‘has to work really hard’ to get his spot back
• Centre-half was not even on the bench for Manchester United match

Antonio Conte has warned David Luiz he faces a battle to regain his place in the first team after dropping the centre-half for the champions’ critical victory over Manchester United, a win that left the visitors eight points adrift of the top.

Álvaro Morata’s second-half header proved the decisive moment at Stamford Bridge but David Luiz, such a key player in Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph last season after rejoining from Paris Saint-Germain, watched the game from behind the home dugout with Conte claiming his omission was born of shoddy recent form. The Brazilian’s replacement, the Danish youngster Andreas Christensen, performed impressively as Chelsea moved to within a point of United, albeit still nine from Manchester City at the top. The 17-year-old midfielder Ethan Ampadu, who has yet to feature in the top flight, had been included instead among the substitutes. Asked afterwards whether David Luiz had a future at the club, Conte said: “I don’t know. He has to work really hard, otherwise they are on the bench or in the stand.” The Italian was subsequently asked to clarify those comments, and added: “It’s very simple, no? Very simple. The coach has to make the best decision for the team and tonight the best decision for the team was to play with Christensen and to have, on the bench, [Ethan] Ampadu. Another young player. A really good player for the present and the future.

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