Antonio Conte insists he has no favourites in the Chelsea team

simon johnson
Evening Standard
Getty Images
Getty Images

Antonio Conte claims he has no favourites in his current Chelsea squad.

The Chelsea manager has picked from largely the same group of 13-14 players for League games since switching to a 3-4-3 formation in October.

He did use the domestic cup competitions to give fringe players and young players an opportunity to impress.

However, against Manchester United in the FA Cup Quarter Final on Monday he went back to his first choice personnel.

Conte insists he treats everyone the same though and said: "When you have 20, 21 players in the squad, I think the best way to give all the players the same importance is to always pay great attention to every single player in training. Then it's better, I think.

"If you don't pay attention to one player in training and don't want to improve him, it's a lack of respect for that player.

In this situation it's right a player would be unhappy. "Sometimes it's normal that you can make mistakes in your choices. But, for me, the lack of respect is if I don't work with my players, if I don't pay attention to my players.”

The quartet of youngsters, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ola Aina and Nathan Ake have seen opportunities to play disappear now that Chelsea are closing in on a domestic Double.

But Conte believes they are still benefitting from being at Stamford Bridge rather than elsewhere on loan.

He added: “I think, first of all, for the young players to train with this type of player – Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, John Terry – is great. You learn every day what it means to be a champion.

"It's important to stay with this type of player and to learn. But also, for me, they are not young players. For me, they are Chelsea players.

"I try to improve all my players in the same way: I work in the same way with the young and old players, and I put great attention in it for them every day. That is normal for me.”

In saying that, Conte has yet to decide whether they will all definitely be part of his plans for next season.

Academy product: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Getty Images)
Academy product: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Getty Images)

He explained: “It's important now to be focused on the present but, for sure, when the right moment comes to face the right situation, we will decide if they need to go on loan to play. For sure, we'll try and take the best decision for the player and for the club.

"But I always like to take the decisions together, with the player and the club, and try and make the best decision for the club.

“They must have this ambition to play in the first-team. It's normal, this. I want to see this ambition, that they want to show me they deserve to play with the first-team. You must be sure, though, if someone deserves to play that they do play.”

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes