Conte: Opportunity knocks

Antonio Conte says tomorrow’s game is the right one to bring Eden Hazard back into the starting XI for, and he also reports some younger members of his squad are likely to feature in the Carabao Cup tie.

The boss was talking at Cobham on the eve of our third round game against Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge. He spoke in detail about a couple of experienced wide men, Hazard and Pedro, and two more, Charly Musonda and Kenedy, whose senior careers are still in their infancy.

‘Now is the right moment for Eden to start the game and try to play the whole game,’ Conte reported.

‘I hope for him it is the final step from his injury. We have managed his situation very well. In my career I was injured a lot of times, and I have a bit of experience about this. Now he is ready to start the game.

Pedro has not been lucky this season,’ Conte added of the Spaniard who came off at half-time on Sunday.

‘He started the season with a bad injury in the Arsenal friendly game where he broke a bone in his face, and then he received a knock on his ankle, and now his leg. I hope for him to be luckier in the future.

Pedro is trying to recover from the last injury. It’s important for him also to work. Don’t forget when you are injured you can’t work, and sometimes you can lose your best physical condition. His last injury is nothing serious but he needs a bit of time to recover.’

Conte didn’t want to explicitly state who would be joining Hazard in the starting line-up but he did bring up a couple of names voluntarily.

‘It’s a good opportunity to give chances to some players who in the last period didn’t play a lot.

‘It could be a good opportunity for Charly Musonda, and also for Kenedy.

Kenedy knows very well what happened in China. He made a mistake, but everyone in life can make a mistake. He is focused, he is working very well and he understood his mistake. Now he is ready to play and to show he deserves a place for the future.

‘You can see Charly’s talent very clearly. I am sure we are talking about a young player with really good prospects. Now it is important he is working very well and trying to adapt himself to this league, which is not simple. It’s a physical league.

‘He is a bit thin but now he is working a lot to improve his strength and be prepared for the big impacts in this league. I trust Charly. It’s important for the coach to trust a young player, but also important to have a good answer when the chance to play arrives.’

Conte said the 20-year-old Musonda could play as a number 10 or a winger now, and in the future a spot at wing-back is a possibility for the Belgian.

The competition itself and tomorrow’s esteemed opposition also came up in the media conference, with Conte asked how seriously he would be taking the Carabao Cup this term, especially as we are now back in Europe.

‘It’s one of the four competitions. We have to try to do our best. It’s not easy to face four competitions but tomorrow is a good opportunity to give a chance to some players who didn’t play a lot.

‘This season could be an opportunity for all the players to play games. The most important thing is when the chance arrives, to take it. In our squad we have many young players. It’s important for them to take this chance and show me I can count on them.

‘For sure we want to win and go to the next round. It’s the same thought for Nottingham Forest. We are talking about a great club with a great history,’ he said, highlighting their success in the European Cup.

‘We have great respect for them and for this reason we have to pay great attention. In the last game they beat Newcastle. I have watched a lot of their games, and they play good football.’