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Conte sticks to League Cup youth policy

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Chelsea’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte give a press conference at Chelsea’s Cobham training facility in Stoke D’Abernon, southwest of London, on October 17, 2017, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group C football match against Roma . / AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte says he will give his young players another chance to shine in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final at home to Bournemouth.

Conte fielded weakened teams in the earlier rounds against Nottingham Forest and Everton and although the semi-finals are now in sight, he is not planning to change his approach.

“Every competition is serious. I think our task is to try to win the game, to try to reach the semi-final,” Conte told Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.

“At the same time it’s right in this competition to give the opportunity to the players not playing regularly.

“For the players that are struggling to find the best form after injuries; (Danny) Drinkwater, for example.

“I have to trust my players. Not only with words, but with facts, to show I trust my players and I want to give them a big opportunity in a big game to show me they deserve to play.”

With wing-back Marcos Alonso suspended after accumulating five yellow cards, Brazilian Kenedy is set to get a rare first-team start on the left flank.

Back-up striker Michy Batshuayi and midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who has recovered from illness, could both be named in the starting XI.

Wales international Ethan Ampadu, 17, could start and fellow teenagers Callum Hudson-Odoi and Dujon Sterling are also in contention.

David Luiz remains sidelined with a knee injury, but the form of Andreas Christensen means the Brazil centre-back has not been missed.

Christensen, 21, has usurped Luiz as Conte’s preferred pick in the centre of his three-man defence and the Italian says the Denmark international is an example to Chelsea’s fringe players.

“I hope to have this type of problem,” Conte told journalists at Chelsea’s Cobham training base southwest of London.

“Before taking a decision for the starting XI, if a player plays or not, the last part of the body that I look (at) is the head.

“You ask me: ‘Why don’t Chelsea play young players?’ I put a young player (in) now. If you deserve to play, you play.

“Don’t forget Christensen is playing, only 21 years old. He’s showing he deserves to play. I think this guy has fantastic prospects for the present, for the future.”

Conte would not be drawn on newspaper reports linking Luiz with a move away from Stamford Bridge.

“I don’t read,” said the Chelsea manager. “I solve the problem.”

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