Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has no regrets over the decision to allow academy graduates Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham to leave on loan during the summer, insisting that the new England internationals are the future of the club and are treading the same path as Andreas Christensen as they look to prove themselves worthy of regular first-team roles at Stamford Bridge.
The duo's positive starts to respective season-long spells with relegation candidates Crystal Palace and Swansea City led to both being called up to the injury-hit England squad for the first time last week, where they earned their maiden senior caps in goalless friendly draws with Germany and Brazil.
Versatile midfielder Loftus-Cheek particularly impressed at Wembley, picking up the man of the match award in the first game before exiting after 35 minutes against the five-time World Cup winners due to back spasms.
Such a swift rise to prominence has led many to question why the pair were permitted to leave Chelsea in the first place, while there have been pleas to recall one or both players when the transfer window reopens for business in January.
"I think we are talking about two really good young players. For sure Ruben and Tammy will be the future for Chelsea. Now it's right for them to play regularly," the newly-bearded Conte told reporters at a press conference held before Saturday's (18 November) Premier League trip to West Bromwich Albion when asked if there was any chance they could be recalled.
"I read Ruben's interview, and he said that his path is perfect and to play regularly this season is very important for his development. Then to come back and play for Chelsea with greater maturity. It's the same path for Christensen. He played for two years on loan [at Borussia Monchengladbach] and now he's playing regularly for Chelsea. He's young but an important Chelsea player."
Conte's own future has once again become the subject of speculation of late amid suggestion that he should replace Giampiero Ventura as Italy coach after a 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden ensured that the four-time champions missed out on World Cup qualification for the first time since 1958.
Asked if he was the right solution for the embattled Italian Football Federation (FIGC) after lamenting that disaster, the former Juventus stalwart, who led his country to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, replied: "But I think I must be honest: I think now it's very difficult because, at this moment, it's not simple. Not simple.
"There are a lot of rumours, a lot of news, but I think for the federation it's right to take the right time to find the best solution for football in Italy."
Conte was appearing in front of the press for the first time since Michael Emenalo surprisingly ended his 10-year association with Chelsea by quitting as technical director.
Pressed if that resignation was a big loss for him, he said: "For sure, for sure, this is a loss, a big loss for us. With Michael, our relationship was very good. He helped me a lot last season, and also this season. For sure it was a surprise for me, his resignation from his job.
"At the same time I think that we have to respect his decision, his professional decision. Yes. And I wish for him and his family the best, the best for the present and the future."