Marcos Alonso
Marcos Alonso has become a key player for Antonio Conte at Chelsea Getty

Antonio Conte has confirmed that Marcos Alonso will be ready to return to action when Barcelona visit Chelsea on Tuesday night, 20 February, but the Italian boss added that the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against the La Liga giants is likely to come too early for Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The Spanish left-back has been out of action since the 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth on 31 January.

Alonso was rested against Watford as a precaution but he later also missed the following victories over West Bromwich in the Premier League and Hull City in the FA Cup after suffering an ankle injury during a training session.

Meanwhile, Bakayoko has not featured for the Blues since being sent off in the first half of the disappointing defeat at Vicarage Road.

Conte provided mixed news regarding the duo after Chelsea secured an impressive 4-0 victory over Hull on Friday, 16 February, to book a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

"Bakayoko... I don't think will be available for the Barcelona game, but Alonso is ready to play," Conte confirmed in the press conference.

Alonso's return is a major boost for Conte with the Spaniard having been a key player in the manager's starting line-ups since his arrival from Fiorentina in the summer of 2016.

Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta, Victor Moses and Thibaut Courtois are also expected to start against Barcelona after the five – all of them regulars in the starting XI – were rested against Hull.

However, Conte said that he still faces a selection dilemma to choose his line-up after a number of fringe players impressed in the victory over Hull City, with Willian scoring a brace and Olivier Giroud netting his first goal for the club.

"I'm very happy because before the game against Barcelona, I go to my house with many doubts in my mind about what is the best starting XI for the game. Now, we must take the right time to make the best decision," the Chelsea boss added.

"The last two wins were very important for our confidence and to prepare in the right way for Barcelona. It's a massive game. We must be confident to prepare for it in the right way. The game starts at 0-0, and then we have to try to move it in the right direction.

"To play against Barcelona is a great challenge for us. At the same time, this type of game must give us great enthusiasm and we must be excited to play it because I consider Barcelona as one of the best teams in the world."