Antonio Conte has claimed that Chelsea fringe players will have options to play under him this season should they prove to deserve a role in his plans, after young Nathaniel Chalobah was handed his first-team debut in the EFL Cup 4-2 victory over Leicester City on Tuesday night (20 September). Meanwhile, the Italian manager has also sent a grateful message to the travelling fans as they helped the Blues to come back from two goals down to qualify for the next round.
The former Juventus and Italian national boss has stuck with a similar line-up for the opening games of the campaign, deploying a 4-3-3 formation with the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Gary Cahill and Nemanja Matic becoming pivotal. However, Conte has also not hesitated to trust players like Victor Moses during this time, despite they had fallen out of favour in previous seasons.
The new Chelsea boss has already used 21 players since the Premier League opener against West Ham, including all his summer outfield signings after Marco Alonso also made his first appearance for the Blues against the Foxes in the left-back role. The debuts of the Spanish defender and Chalobah means that only four first-team players – Mikel John Obi, third keeper Eduardo, Dominic Solanke and long-term absentee Kurt Zouma – have failed to play under the Italian manager this term.
Conte has now told them to follow the example of Chalobah as he is ready to give all the squad members a chance should they earned during the training sessions.
"I want to have the whole squad, not only 11, 12, or 13 players, and create good competition," the boss said as the Blues will continue their busy fixture list with a crucial trip to Arsenal on Saturday. "For example, today I'm pleased for Chalobah. It's his first game. He is a product of the Academy and I am very happy for him. I want to show if someone deserves, he plays."
Cesc Fabregas also proved the manager he deserves a role in his plans ahead of the derby with Arsenal after scoring a brace in extra time to complete the Chelsea comeback. Conte praised the Spanish midfielder for his contribution, but also hailed the importance of the travelling Chelsea fans to push them to the fourth round of the EFL Cup.
"It's incredible the support of our fans," Conte said. "I want to tell them thank you because at 2-0 down they were pushing the team. It's important because we must stick together in good and bad situations. To count on your fans is very important and for this reason I wanted to thank you."