Antonio Conte has urged Chelsea players to prove that they are good enough to be picked for the team irrespective of the competition they are in. The Blues take on Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Carabao club and the Italian manager revealed that he will be selecting his team based on performance and not age.
Conte is expected to open his team up to try the next generation of youngsters, with the likes of Charly Musonda, Kenedy and 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu expected to be in the reckoning for a spot. The manager is likely to rotate heavily for the game after a deeply contested 0-0 draw on Sunday (17 September) against London rivals Arsenal.
This summer, Nathaniel Chalobah has made his way out of the Blues in search of first-team football after struggling to get into the team last season. In the previous season, he had managed only five starts, of which only one was in the Premier League. Nathan Ake also made his way out of the Blues for Bournemouth, where he spent half a season on loan. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ola Aina and Tammy Abraham have all been loaned out this season.
"Last season, if you remember very well, Chalobah had the chance to play. Don't forget last season we won the league. Don't forget last season our midfielders were Matic, Kante and Fabregas. You have to consider all these components," Conte said, as quoted by the Independent.
"Chalobah, last season, was the fourth midfielder. He had the chance to play. That is normal. If you ask to play regularly with a great club, then you must deserve to play. And to deserve to take Kante's or Matic's or Fabregas' place. If you show you deserve to play and can be better than these players, I'm ready to do this."
However, this season, Conte has high hopes on the likes of Andreas Christensen. The 21-year-old centre-back has already started two games this season, against Tottenham Hotspur and Qarabag, and made three other substitute appearances.
"We have a clear example with Christensen," Conte added. "Christensen played on loan at Borussia Moenchengladbach and now he's in our squad. He has played [almost] every game, not against Everton, and now he's ready to play. Ready to play in the Champions League. Ready to play from the start with Chelsea. I think, for the young players, it's very important to find the right path for them. To try to make them good experience and then to be ready to play for Chelsea."