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Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri says Premier League leaders Chelsea can be caught
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes Premier League leaders Chelsea can be caught.
The visitors' 13-game winning league run ended with a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham this month but the Blues remain in the driving seat to regain the title they won in 2015.
Chelsea have only lost three times in the league during Conte's first season in charge but Ranieri feels they are not guaranteed the title.
"Yes, they can be caught," said the 65-year-old, who managed Chelsea between 2000 and 2004. "They started not so well but after a few matches Conte understood the team and the players.
"They made a good start and lost to Tottenham after 13 (straight wins) which is an amazing achievement. We expect a lot from them but we are ready to fight and win.
"Yes it's harder (to win from the front). But I think everyone wants to be up there and not behind, that is much better. But the league is very long and they must be careful.
"I am a sporting man, I want the best to win the title but of course, if I had to give someone the title, why not Chelsea?
"I expect a strong reaction from them. They are old champions and they want to make up for defeat."
Leicester replaced Chelsea as champions, with the Blues finishing 10th last season, but Ranieri believes normality has returned to the Premier League.
Ranieri added: "Last season was something strange. This season it's normal. Chelsea are in the first position and Leicester are there (15th) - that's all. We'll come back, don't worry."
The Italian is without Leonardo Ulloa (thigh) alongside Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Daniel Amartey who are all at the African Nations Cup.
Jeff Schlupp has completed a move to Crystal Palace but Jamie Vardy and Andy King are fit following a bout of illness and will return to Ranieri's side.
His compatriot and Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte has tipped John Terry to become a manager when he finishes playing.
Conte could be presiding over the 36-year-old captain's final months as a player, with Terry's current contract expiring this summer after 18 years and more than 700 appearances.
He was sincere in his belief that the former England skipper has a future in management if that is his wish.
"I think that when he decides to finish his career, I think he could have a good prospect to become a manager here," Conte said.
"Not here! Wait - I hope to stay here! But to start a new career as manager.
"He is clever, he is really good at understanding situations and I think it could be a good prospect for him to start a new career as a manager.
"But when he is finished. For now, leave him to play."
Conte says he is grateful for Claudio Ranieri's advice, particularly on music and eggs. But the Italians avoided discussing N'Golo Kante's move from Leicester last summer.
Conte said: "I never talked with him about N'Golo. In that case, you are in the market and it is best to think about your team.
"We bought N'Golo because he was fantastic last season with Leicester.
"He is showing with Chelsea that our choice was right to buy him. We paid good money, but his value is good."
Conte and Ranieri, in the early weeks of the campaign, did discuss life in England. Ranieri was Roman Abramovich's first manager in his Chelsea ownership, lasting one season.
"His experience here is very important for me," Conte said.
"If you have another opinion, above all if this person is someone you respect a lot, it's important. This type of chat helped me a lot.
"He told me to understand these habits in England. For example, the music in the changing room or before the game that the players want to eat eggs.
"(He told me) To accept them quickly and be focused on the more important aspects."
Terry is suspended after he was unsuccessful in an appeal over his dismissal against Peterborough and his place on the substitutes' bench could go to Nathan Ake, who has been recalled from Bournemouth.
Conte has some undisclosed injury doubts but the Italian did not name any players but Diego Costa did not travelled with the rest of the squad with rumours circulating that the Spanish international is unsettled at the club following interest from China.