Ahead of the opening of the FA Cup campaign, Antonio Conte has discussed two players who are ready to feature for Chelsea on Sunday and two players who will not.
The Blues are aiming to make it past the third round of the competition for the 19th year in a row, a run that began with John Terry’s full debut at Oldham back in 1999. Since then he has gone on to play 55 FA Cup games, the fourth highest number by any Chelsea player, and the captain is available to add to that this weekend.
“John Terry is in a good shape and is ready to start to play,” reported Conte. “He is doing great work on the pitch and outside of the pitch and it is important to underline this.”
The manager spoke yesterday about the opportunity this FA Cup tie presents for striker Michy Batshuayi, who last started a game in the League Cup at West Ham in October.
“He could be frustrated, especially when you are used to playing every game with Marseille, but when you arrive at a great team like Chelsea you normally have to fight to find a place in the starting 11,” Conte pointed out.
“Michy is finding a lot of difficulty in adapting to this league and the football because it is very physical and is not easy. He is only 23 years old, he is young, he can improve a lot and in front of him there is Diego Costa and for this reason, he is finding it a bit difficult to play.
“Now it is important for him to stay concentrated on the game, to see the present and not look too too far ahead. It is important to be focused and to play very well, and show he is integrated into our way of football.”
The transfer window is now open but following the departures of John Mikel Obi and Oscar to China, Conte wants to keep the rest of his squad from the first half of the season together, believing the spirit they are building together is right and they are all important for that.
He is however keeping his options open on two other players who are currently training with the group – Kenedy and Charly Musonda – which means they will not play against Peterborough as to do so would rule them out of any further loans under regulations which forbid a player appearing for more than two clubs in a season.
“For Charly Musonda and for Kenedy it is an important month,” Conte explained, “because they came back from a loan and it is important to weigh up in this month what happened, to evaluate the situation in the right way, and to take the best solution for the club, for the team, for me and for the players above all.”