Antonio Conte confirmed that Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante had been rested for Chelsea’s FA Cup clash with Hull City.
The Italian manager made six changes to his team which defeated West Brom on Monday night, with Willy Caballero, Gary Cahill, Ethan Ampadu, Danny Drinkwater, Willian and Emerson all coming into the starting XI.
Chelsea are without injured quartet Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ross Barkley, while Olivier Giroud passed a late fitness test to start at Stamford Bridge.
However, both Hazard or Kante were absent from Chelsea’s squad for the fifth-round tie and Conte lifted the lid on his decision to drop the duo.
‘I think Hazard, Kante and [Cesar] Azpilicueta are playing a lot and it’s right to give them the possibility to rest, he told BT Sport.
‘I give them good training and give them the best physical condition. I think every competition is important for Chelsea and our target is to do best in every competition, to fight for every competition
‘In the cup there is path. You must be good and also lucky to go through to first round.’
With clashes against Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City around the corner, Conte has decided to rest a number of the club’s top stars.
‘Yeah, I think it is a choice because we are in busy period,’ Conte added.
‘After this game we have another important game against Barcelona. I think that it is right – we have done it in past and we will continue to do the same.’
‘I think that in the past in the Carabao Cup I gave them the chance to play and we are talking about two of the best players in our academy in Ethan Ampadu and, for me, it’s not difficult to predict a brilliant future for this player.
‘It’s the same for [Callum] Hudson-Odoi. There’s [Dujon] Sterling, [Trevoh] Chalobah and [Kyle] Scott. ‘I think Chelsea’s future is very brilliant for these young players.’