Sunday 18 March 2018

Conte hints at Barkley's full debut

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Ross Barkley

Antonio Conte kept his counsel on Chelsea's transfer policy as the head coach hinted Ross Barkley would make his full debut in tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Newcastle.

Following Wednesday night's League Cup semi-final loss at Arsenal, Conte did little to hide his frustration at a lack of recruitment, with Barkley's £15million purchase from Everton on January 5 the only incoming player so far this month.

Conte said: "The club decide our transfer market. From the summer, the club decides every single player."

Asked whether any arrivals can be anticipated, Conte took his usual stance to defer to the club.

"The club will inform you if there is news," Conte said. "As I said before, I think I'm repeating every three days, I would be very happy to continue to work with my players. I would be very happy if there are some new players. It doesn't change my opinion, my mind only three days (on).

"I'm repeating always the same thing. I'm the coach. My task is to try to do the best for this club, to try to improve my players for this club."

Conte, who won the Premier League in his first season in charge last term, was asked if he is happy.

He added: "Yes, I'm happy. I'm happy to work with my players, I'm happy to work for this club.

"I'm happy to try every day to put all myself for this job. I'm happy for this." Asked whether he was planning to stay beyond the end of the season, Conte, who is under contract until June 2019, said: "Nothing has changed. There was the summer, then after the summer. Nothing has changed."

With striker Alvaro Morata (back) and playmaker Willian (hamstring) out, along with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (ankle), Barkley is poised to make his first Chelsea start against the Magpies.

Barkley has made two substitute appearances, having last played for Everton in May due to a hamstring problem.

Conte said: "After a bad injury you need a bit of time to be fit, 100 per cent. But if you want to accelerate this process he has to play, not only to have the training sessions, especially in this moment, after Willian and Morata injuries we don't have other options."

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas trained yesterday and could return to contention following a hamstring problem. Willian, meanwhile, was poised to undergo a scan to determine the extent of his hamstring problem sustained at Arsenal.

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