Antonio Conte praised the performance of his fringe players after a much-changed Chelsea line-up beat Brentford 4-0 on Saturday (28 January) to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Italian boss made nine changes to his starting XI to have the likes of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard fresh for a crucial week which will see the Blues visiting Liverpool on Tuesday before a home game with Arsenal.
Yet, César Azpilicueta and Pedro kept their places in the team and the former Barcelona star impressed once again while covering Victor Moses as a wing-back, scoring the second goal of the game after having already netted a brace in the previous round against Peterborough United.
Conte now admits that he has now a selection dilemma ahead of the trip to Liverpool – as he doesn't know whether to keep the Spaniard at wing-back or deploying him back in his original attacking role alongside Costa and Hazard.
"We are finding out a great player (Pedro) that can play in different positions. To see him as a wing-back is not usual, like Moses at the start of the season. It shows me he has great commitment, form and quality," the Chelsea boss said in the press conference after the win over Brentford. "Pedro plays very well as a wing-back or as a winger. Now I have a problem for Tuesday!"
Yet, the Chelsea boss also highlighted the response of the fringe players as Willian, Branislav Ivanović and Michy Batshuayi also scored to secure an easy victory for the Premier League leaders.
"It was a good result for us. When you win 4-0 it's a good result, and when you score many goals and you don't concede. In this case, Asmir Begović was very good, he made two good saves," Conte said. "I must be pleased because when you change nine players you can see all the players, all the squad are totally involved in our idea of football, our project. That's very important.
"This competition until now has been an opportunity for me to put players in that are not playing a lot in this period for us. It was also very important to see the right reply of these players and it happened. I'm very happy.
"We have to try to arrive at the end of the competition if we are able. If we win we will deserve this. We are ready to fight. We will see the draw - I hope to play the next game at home again."
Elsewhere, Conte refused to take anything for granted ahead of the trip to Liverpool despite the Reds' disastrous start to the 2017 year.
"To win away against Liverpool is never easy," Conte said after Jurgen Klopp's were knocked out from the FA Cup by Wolverhampton.
"We have only two days to prepare. When we played against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, we lost the game, the only game we have lost here. It's important to understand the real value of this team. It's a really tough game, an important game. After this game there will be 15 games to finish the season. Liverpool are a team who can fight until the end to win the title,"
"Only through work can dreams happen. For us to stay on top of the league is a dream. If you remember our start, now we are doing very well."