Graham Potter insisted Chelsea will not field a team of youngsters “for the sake of it” but will focus on being competitive when they take on Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Chelsea secured their place in the competition’s knockout stages with a 2-1 away victory at Red Bull Salzburg on October 25.
The Blues recovered after a poor start in Group E after an initial return of just one point in their first two games, with Potter appointed just three days following the club’s 1-0 away defeat in Zagreb on September 6 which triggered the sacking of previous manager Thomas Tuchel.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 6, 2022
However, despite Chelsea’s group qualification being confirmed, Potter insisted they will remain competitive for the fixture at Stamford Bridge – where a win for Dinamo could earn them third place and qualification for the Europa League knock-out stages.
“I don’t think it’s a time to be using young players just for the sake of it,” the Chelsea boss said.
“I think we have to be competitive and we have to be respectful of the competition that still teams are looking for points for their own qualification.
“So from our perspective we have to try and think of a team that we think will win the game. We’ve used a lot of young players, a lot of them have been impressive, I like their character, I like their personality and it’s been an important part of how we’ve started here at Chelsea – to get closer to the academy guys and to get to know them.”
Chelsea lost their first match in 10 outings under Potter at the weekend when they were handed a 4-1 thrashing by his former club Brighton.
Striker Armando Broja believes the team will bounce back ahead of the Champions League match.
“We know it was a bad defeat, but we’re going to bounce back from it, we’re going to dust ourselves off and go again,” the 21-year-old said.
“We’ve got a game coming up tomorrow but we’re looking forward now to the next four or five games that we’ve got before the World Cup and we’re going to try and get as many points and try as get as far in the Carabao Cup and the Champions League as we can.
“The next matches ahead of us are equally important so we’re going to try and do our best to find those competitions and rack up as many points in the Champions League as we can.”