May 7, 2017

Conte's Award Hope For Players  (Sky Sports)

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte hopes one of his Chelsea players will land the 2017 Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year award on Monday.

The prestigious FWA accolade - first presented in 1948 to Stanley Matthews - is decided from a vote of the association's now 340-strong membership, which closes on Sunday night.

The league champions have often seen one of their key men named as the recipient, with Leicester forward Jamie Vardy topping the 2016 poll of journalists while Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard was Footballer of the Year two seasons ago.

The Belgian could well feature among the writers' vote again this year, having scored 15 goals and supplied five assists in the Premier League this season.

Hazard is already on the Premier League's shortlist for April's Player of the Month, while N'Golo Kante, who was last month named PFA Player of the Year, is expected to be another contender for the FWA prize.

"I'd prefer to have 23 votes and vote for every one of my players that is for sure," Conte said when asked which of Hazard or Kante deserves to land the accolade.

"I think this is a great achievement for N'Golo and also for Eden [to be among the contenders], because I think they are having a really good season.

"But I also believe there are many Chelsea players who deserve to be in this group of players who are trying to win the best footballer of the year."

Following Tottenham's 1-0 loss at West Ham, Chelsea remain four points clear at the top of the table ahead of their match at relegation-battlers Middlesbrough on Monday Night Football.

Should Conte's men win at the Riverside Stadium, they could then deliver the Premier League title when away to West Brom on May 12.

Middlesbrough head coach Steve Agnew is in no doubt of the qualities Kante brings to Chelsea's team.

"Kante has been absolutely top class. He is the one player who knits it all together - he did it for Leicester last season," said Agnew.

"He has had an excellent season - well, Kante has had two seasons where he has been different class."

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