Conte: Possibilities and potential

One of the decisions Antonio Conte will have to make today is whether or not to start Michy Batshuayi and the boss has been considering the striker’s development.

Batshuayi struck five goals in pre-season following on from a fine end to last term when he netted four in three games, including that famous winner at the Hawthorns. He is likely to be competing with new signing Alvaro Morata for a starting berth up front this season and Conte has assessed his chances of being named in the XI today.

‘It’s a great possibility for Michy,’ he said. ‘He has played every [pre-season] game from the start and it’s very important for him to play well.

‘Michy is working very well, he is putting 120 per cent in every moment during the training session and during the game. We are talking about a young player. He needs to develop, but for sure he is trying to put his best in every moment of the day.

‘We worked very hard with him last season. He didn’t play a lot but I think he adapted himself to our style of football. He has a lot of space to improve, he is a young player and he needs to continue to work and to improve.’

The challenges facing young players such as Batshuayi are different to those Conte experiences because of his history in the game.

‘I have always worked with great pressure. It’s normal. It’s important to face the pressure in the right way. Sometimes you are more serious, sometimes you laugh. It’s important to have this habit to face the pressure.

‘For young players it is difficult because they are not used to the pressure. They can pay for the pressure. It’s very difficult to judge a young player only during the training session, but there are moments you have to take risks because you don’t have other possibilities and you have to go with the young player.’

Conte might have to do that for today’s league opener against Burnley, with Eden Hazard, Pedro and Tiemoue Bakayoko all out injured. The boss says it is very important not to rush them back as that could have negative consequences, and he doesn’t want to use their absence as an excuse in the early weeks of the season.

‘It is not important who is injured. It’s important to try to do our best. If our best will bring us to win the game, it’s right.

‘I want to see the real Chelsea today. The season is starting and we must be ready. We have to try to play good football and we have to try to win the game. For sure it will not be easy in this part of the season, but I don’t want to find any excuses for me, my staff or my players. We have to go and to fight and try to win with the players we have.’