Chelsea team news: Antonio Conte set to give fringe players chance to shine against Bournemouth

The Italian is set to rotate his options by giving his more peripheral players an opportunity against Bournemouth on Wednesday night

Jack Pitt-Brooke
Tuesday 19 December 2017 16:05
Antonio Conte is set to rotate his Chelsea side for the visit of Bournemouth
Antonio Conte is set to rotate his Chelsea side for the visit of Bournemouth

Antonio Conte will make changes to his Chelsea team for Wednesday night’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Bournemouth, giving fringe players the chance to make their case to feature more in the second half of the season.

Chelsea can be confident of progressing to the next stage of the competition against a Bournemouth side struggling for results and confidence, and who lost 4-0 at home to Liverpool on Sunday. But for Conte there is an even bigger prize at stake, which is strengthening his squad options for a busy Christmas period and beyond.

Chelsea are performing well in the Premier League, with four wins from their last five, but have been using a narrow pool of players. Conte knows that he cannot call on all of his regulars on Wednesday night, especially ahead of Christmas. Chelsea travel to Goodison Park this Saturday lunch-time, host Brighton and Hove Albion on Boxing Day and Stoke City on 30 December, before travelling to the Emirates for a crucial game on 3 January.

This means that Conte will likely rest his most regular players, such as N’Golo Kante or even Eden Hazard, for the Bournemouth game. Marcos Alonso is suspended after picking up five yellow cards and Conte is considering bringing some of Chelsea’s most talented young players into the team.

“It is right in this competition to give the opportunity to the players who are not playing regularly,” Conte said. “It is right to continue in this way with my players because it is very hard to ask your players to play every game.”

So Wednesday will be a chance for fringe players to stake their claim to play more in future. Michy Batshuayi is set to start up front for just the seventh time this season, as he still tries to make his impression on the first team. In midfield Danny Drinkwater is likely to make his fourth start of the season, as he continues to build up rhythm and match fitness. Drinkwater arrived at Chelsea from Leicester City with a calf injury which has held him back this season.

Most intriguingly, Wednesday will give a chance to Kenedy at left-wing back, in place of the suspended Alonso. Kenedy has struggled to make an impression this season and was sent home from the club’s pre-season tour of China in July after making derogatory comments about Chinese people on social media. He has made two starts, both in the EFL Cup, but will be able to make a third against Bournemouth.

“For me it’s very important to pay great attention to the performances in this game,” Conte said. “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.”

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