Football

Conte's warning works wonders

Chelsea boss uses Lincoln's upset of Burnley to fire up Blues

Antonio Conte says Lincoln's progress provided a last-minute reminder of the FA Cup's potential pitfalls, which Chelsea avoided by winning 2-0 at Wolves yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Blues joined non-League Lincoln in the FA Cup quarter-final draw as Pedro Rodriguez and Diego Costa scored second-half goals to eliminate a Wolves team which had beaten Stoke City and Liverpool.

Chelsea, Premier League leaders by eight points after drawing at Burnley last weekend, are still on course for a league and cup double.

That is a target for Conte, who says nothing can be taken for granted after the Imps' win at Burnley saw a non-League side advance to the last eight for the first time in 103 years.

"This challenge was very tough, but we all knew (that)," Conte said.

"After the result this afternoon (at Turf Moor), I tried to warn the changing room about the difficulty of this game, of this competition.

"It's important to understand nothing is easy.

"If someone thinks in the league Chelsea for sure become the champions and in the FA Cup for sure you can win this trophy... it'll be very difficult.

"But we know that we stay there and we want to try to arrive at the end, to try to win some trophies."

Conte praised his fringe players such as 36-year-old captain John Terry, whose only starts since September have been in the cup competitions.

Cesc Fabregas, Nathaniel Chalobah, Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake, Asmir Begovic and Willian also came into the side.

Conte told Chelsea TV: "I made seven changes. I had a good answer of the players who usually don't play a lot.

"I know it's not easy when you don't play every game, to play and have a good performance.

"It happened. I'm very happy for my players. I'm very happy for the team."

PRAISE FOR LINCOLN

Conte also complimented Lincoln for their giant-killing run.

"This is a great achievement for them and also this is the beauty of football and the FA Cup," he said.

"I'm pleased to live this story with them. Now we are with Lincoln in the quarter-finals. It's fantastic."

Conte's side next play struggling Swansea in the Premier League on Saturday, with the Italian eager to carry the momentum from another win until the end of the season.

He added: "Now it's important to continue in this way.

"We are in two competitions. We have the possibility to go into the next round, to arrive at the end.

"It's important to know we have to work very hard, to continue with this concentration, with this will to fight and to go ahead."

He will not be underestimating Swansea on Saturday though.

"Now it's important to have a rest and then to restart to prepare for another tough game against Swansea," Conte added.

"If someone thinks the Swansea game is easy, they make a great mistake." - PA SPORT

FA CupCHELSEA (EPL)Antonio Conte