herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Conte will continue to give youth a chance in Cup

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte

Head coach Antonio Conte says he is giving youth a chance at Chelsea - and will do so again in tonight's League Cup quarter-final with Bournemouth.

Like in the previous rounds against Nottingham Forest and Everton, the Italian is set to rotate his options by giving his more peripheral players an opportunity.

"Every competition is serious. I think our task is to try to win the game, to try to reach the semi-final," Conte said.

"At the same time it's right in this competition to give the opportunity to the players not playing regularly. For the players that are struggling to find the best form after injuries, (Danny) Drinkwater, for example.

"For me it's very important to pay great attention to the performances in this game.

"I have to trust my players. Not only with words, but with facts. To show I trust my players and I want to give them a big opportunity in a big game to show me they deserve to play."

Left wing-back Marcos Alonso is suspended for five bookings, with Kenedy set to take his place, while Michy Batshuayi and Drinkwater are poised to get a chance.

Start

Wales international Ethan Ampadu could start and fellow 17-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, a World Cup winner with England under-17s in October, is set to be involved along with 18-year-old Dujon Sterling.

Conte, who is without Charly Musonda (groin) and David Luiz (knee) through injury, says anyone who performs well can follow the example of Andreas Christensen and break into the first team. Christensen has displaced Luiz as first choice in the centre of Conte's preferred three-man defence.

"I hope to have this type of problem," the Blues boss added.

"Before taking a decision for the starting XI, if a player plays or not, the last part of the body that I look is the head.

"You don't play because I see that you are this player, you are a big name.

"I like to make the best decision from what I see during training sessions and games.

"You (the media) ask me 'Why don't Chelsea play young players?' I put a young player (in) now.

"If you deserve to play, you play. Don't forget Christensen is playing, only 21 years old.

"He's showing he deserves to play. I think this guy has fantastic prospects for the present, for the future."

Luiz's future is the subject of regular speculation since he lost his place to Christensen, which happened prior to his injury. Conte ignores the rumours.

"I don't read. I solve the problem," he said.

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