Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has ruled out several first team players of Friday’s FA Cup clash with second-tier Hull City while hinting that he will give some youngsters opportunities.
“Bakayoko is out, Luiz is out and Barkley is out. Then I have a couple of situations that I have to check,” Conte said during his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
When he was asked about squad rotation ahead of the Champions League fixture against Barcelona next week, Conte said: “We have in front of us two weeks that are very tough, for this reason it is right to have a programme and a plan to face these two weeks in the right way but as you know, we want to try to go through to the next round of the FA Cup.
“Every competition is a priority. We tried to do the same in the Carabao Cup to get to the semi-final. We want to win every competition, there’s not one priority. There are three competitions.”
The Italian has brought in Olivier Giroud from Arsenal to compete with Alvaro Morata for the centre forward position. He insists he is happy with both strikers
“I think that Alvaro is a player with a good responsibility. A good maturity. The competition is good for the team. I think a great team must have competition in every role. For us, Giroud is a good option,” Conte explained.
When asked his opinion about Roy Keane saying Chelsea players are unprofessional, Conte replied: “In every moment I underlined the commitment of the players. In one year and a half we built a great mentality. In every training session I see great commitment.”
Conte promised to give some youngsters a shot on Friday night.
He said: “In the Carabao Cup and also FA Cup, I gave them the chance to play. We are talking about two of the best players from our academy. We are talking about Ampadu, it is not difficult to predict a brilliant future, same for Hudson-Odoi.”
There was a disruption during the press conference when Italian journalists, who had pranked Jose Mourinho into signing a Manchester United shirt with Antonio Conte on the back, presented the jersey to Conte.
“This is present for you. It is signed by Jose Mourinho…”To my friend Antonio”. Long live friendship, shall I leave it to you?” one of the journalists asked.
Conte replied without taking the shirt: “No, you can take it with you. Keep it, you will give it to me later.”
Conte and United manager Mourinho were recently embroiled in public a war of words.