Football

Chelsea's Conte giving fringe players and youth a chance in League Cup

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hinted at massive changes to his starting line-up when they host Bournemouth in tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) League Cup quarter-final.

Among those benefiting from his decision are Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy, both of whom the Italian has confirmed will start the match.

Brazilian Kenedy, 21, has yet to start a game in the English Premier League this season, while 24-year-old Belgian striker Batshuayi's eight league starts have included six substitute appearances.

QUARTER-FINAL
CHELSEA BOURNEMOUTH

Said Conte: "For sure, we will continue in this way. It's right to continue to give this opportunity to my players to show me that they deserve to play.

"Every competition is serious and our task is to try and win the game, to reach the semi-finals.

"It's right in this competition to give the chance to the players who aren't playing with regularity. This is very important.

"It's very difficult to ask your players to play every game. (N'Golo) Kante has played 10 games in a row.

"When you do this, you take a great risk with injury."

Not only those in his Premier League squad will get the chance to play. So will his starlets from the academy.

Midfielder Ethan Ampadu, 17, could start, while defender Dujon Sterling, 18, and forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, 17, may be named in the matchday squad.

Said Conte: "These players could be involved, why not? These players are the future of Chelsea.

CARROT FOR THE CHERRIES

"Sterling is a really good player, Hudson-Odoi won the Under-20 World Cup and Ampadu played the last round against Everton, maybe he could start tomorrow.

"Every day, Ampadu is working with us and working hard. I must consider the young players, if they deserve to have this chance."

Defender David Luiz remains unavailable as the 30-year-old centre back is still recovering from a knee injury, although striker Alvaro Morata, who hasn't started Chelsea's past two league games due to a back problem, is fit again.

Bournemouth have not won any of their last six EPL games, but manager Eddie Howe is hoping to use this cup competition as a springboard to launch his side back to form.

Said Howe: "It is a really tough draw for us, but we are looking to break fresh ground for the club.

"We've never been into a semi-final of a major cup competition and that is a great carrot for us.

"To try and achieve that would be fantastic, so we go into this game desperately trying to win."- WIRE SERVICES

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