Conte: Holland had to answer England's call

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Antonio Conte will be disappointed to lose his Chelsea assistant Steve Holland to England but understands the draw of coaching your country.

The Football Association confirmed on Wednesday that Holland would serve as number two to Gareth Southgate having assisted during the latter's interim spell in charge of the Three Lions.

Conte left Juventus in 2014 to lead Italy and masterminded their run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, by which time the draw of day-to-day club involvement had proved impossible to resist and he had his contract with Chelsea in place.

Holland will combine duties until the end of this season before focusing full-time on England and Conte said: "Steve is a very good professional and he's been helping me a lot with my experience in Chelsea because he has great experience with this club.

"It is a pity to lose him, we must be honest but also I can understand him for his choice because this type of situation can arrive only once in the life - to be a coach or assistant coach of your country.

"For this reason I understand. It is a pity because I work very well with him."

Conte is preparing his Premier League leaders for a Boxing Day clash against Bournemouth and their boss Eddie Howe is another English coaching talent to have impressed the Italian.

"I think he is a really good manager. He is very young and is doing very well with Bournemouth," said Conte, whose side boast a six-point lead over second-place Liverpool but will be without suspended top scorer Diego Costa and N'Golo Kante against Bournemouth.

"I have studied Bournemouth and I'm watching a good team with good organisation in the tactical and physical aspect.

"They try to play, always from the back and put on good pressure. I like him, I have great respect for him and I wish for him a good career and a top career.

"I think if he continues in this way, for sure he can become a manager of a great team."

Conte is already firmly established in the upper echelons of the game and will match his previous best record of 12 consecutive wins, set during his time at Juventus, if Chelsea continue their phenomenal Premier League run - not that personal milestones are of a huge concern to the 47-year-old.

"I must be honest, I don't know [my best run] because I don't like the stats," he added. "I prefer to be focused every game and to think to take three points to increase our position in the table.

"In the past if you asked me my appearances in the Italian league when I was a footballer, I don't know.

"It's good because in the past when we won all these games [at Juventus], the championship was very good for us.

"I think now it is different because this league there are many teams that can fight for the Champions League, for the title, for the Europa League. It is important to continue [winning] in this way."