Chelsea travel to the London Stadium for the first time to face cross town rivals West Ham United in their second clash of the season as they both look to secure a quarter final spot in the EFL Cup.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the Italian manager revealed that captain John Terry would be fit to start against their London rivals. The 35-year-old has been sidelined with an injury he picked up against Swansea in the Premier League and hasn’t featured since. “He’s fit to start, he’s in good shape,” Conte said, and also stated that he would decide today whether Terry gets to start or not.
Branislav Ivanovic and Cesc Fabregas have also been sidelined in recent weeks due to injuries, but it is unlikely they will feature in any capacity against West Ham. Conte said, “Ivanovic is better, he started to train with us from yesterday but it’s normal after an injury that he needs a bit of time to come back.”
Speaking about Fabregas, the Italian stated that Cesc still wasn’t fit, that they ought to be patient with him and he hoped the Spaniard back in training soon.
Given that this is a cup tie, Conte will surely be looking to give some players a rest. Michy Batshuayi is expected to start against West Ham after having to settle for substitute appearances. The manager insisted that he had complete confidence in his player and that he was working very well, saying “The confidence for Michy must be high because he’s a young player. He can make big improvements; he has great quality in the technical and physical aspect.”
Conte went on to say in his press conference that his young players would only be given a chance to play out of trust, and not as a gift as West Ham were a difficult side to play and this is an important competition. “This competition is an important one,” he said. “It can permit you to see some young players who are working well and check on their development.”
He added that it was important to send the right message out to players, saying the ultimate goal is to win before adding, “Then, if I decide to put some young players in the starting 11 it’s only because I trust them, not to give a gift to someone.” Nathaniel Chalobah, Ola Aina and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have already featured this season a lot more than Chelsea fans would have expected and can surely be expected to feature at some point in the match.