Football

Youngsters brighten Conte's day

Chelsea boss sees plenty of positives in young guns' performance in win over Everton

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was impressed with the strong performances of his young players in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 2-1 League Cup win over Everton and says he will use the cup competitions to continue their development.

Conte rotated his team after last Sunday's 4-2 victory over Watford in the Premier League and rested several key players.

Among those getting rare starts were Ethan Ampadu, 17, and 21-year-olds Kenedy and Charly Musonda.

Ampadu, who was making his first start, and Kenedy played the full game while Musonda was substituted in the 70th minute as Chelsea held on to beat Everton despite a late goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

"I am very happy - tonight I saw a lot of positive things - the young players' performance. Charly Musonda, Kenedy, Ampadu - he is only 17 years old - they all played a very good game," Conte said.

"It is important to trust in these players and I am happy because I had a good answer, the answer I was waiting for.

"I think that in these type of games the young players are improving - to see Ampadu tonight is important because we know we have many young players we can improve (them) and give them opportunities."

Conte also said midfielder N'Golo Kante was making steady progress in his recovery from a hamstring injury but the Italian was happy with the performance of Danny Drinkwater, who made his debut against Everton.

"The other good news was to see Danny Drinkwater," added Conte, whose side visit Bournemouth on Sunday morning.

"I can count (on) him in games now. If I decide to play with three midfielders, it's very important."

Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth had made no secret of his wish to take over the reins permanently, and his cause has been helped by this creditable showing.

Unsworth told BBC Radio 5 live: "It was a committed performance.

"Hopefully, we'll show that in every game I am in charge."

Meanwhile, the man Unsworth replaced, Ronald Koeman, has spoken out about his sacking.

He blamed the club's failure to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud as a replacement for Romelu Lukaku and their tough start to the season for his demise.

SO CLOSE

"I had Olivier Giroud in the building," Koeman told Dutch football magazine Voetbal International.

"He would have fitted perfectly but, at the very last moment, he decided that he'd rather live in London and stay at Arsenal."

Everton faced Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in their opening nine league games and Koeman, who spent heavily in the summer to overhaul the squad, said he knew it would be tough when the fixture list came out.

"I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season's top six...," Koeman added.

"I said to myself, 'Phew! That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time'.

"And, most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku." - WIRE SERVICES

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