ANTONIO CONTE is unsure whether Emerson Palmieri is ready to start for Chelsea in their FA Cup clash with Southampton.
Emerson was signed by Conte from Roma for £17.5m during the January transfer window.
The 23-year-old only made his first Premier League start in the Blues’ 2-1 win away to Burnley on Thursday.
However, Emerson is now in contention to start at Wembley on Sunday while Marcos Alonso serves his suspension.
Conte has been impressed with Emerson’s contributions so far but cast some doubt over his prospects of starting against Southampton at the weekend.
“In this moment, it’s very difficult to answer,” said the Chelsea boss.
“Emerson didn’t play many games and [against Burnley] he played a really good game.
“Defensively and offensively. For sure, offensively, I think he must be more positive and try and have more one versus ones, because he has these characteristics.
“We are talking about a young player who’s a really good prospect for Chelsea.
“I have two days to make the best decision for Sunday’s game, to understand who are the players who have recovered, and then to make the best decision.
“For sure, he’s in contention for Southampton’s game.”
Chelsea face the Saints at Wembley on Sunday for a place in this year’s FA Cup final (3pm).
Conte: Jose had it easier than me
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says Jose Mourinho had a more “simple” task to deliver success at Stamford Bridge than he does now.
Mourinho, who was succeeded by Conte in 2016, managed to win 72 of his opening 100 games with Chelsea, meanwhile, the former Juventus head coach was successful in only 65 of his first century of games.
However, Conte believes the club has entered a new era under his reign with a different approach, making comparisons between himself and Mourinho potentially misleading.
“I could do better – this is my mentality. For sure this is a good stat. Mourinho is 72? But we are talking about a good manager,” Conte said.
“Don’t forget that the first 100 games with Mourinho was many years ago. Now it’s not simple to have these results at Chelsea.
“This is a different era in the history of the club. There are differences between now and then and I have to consider this.
“I won the title with Juventus after two seventh places. When you win the title this way, it’s a great achievement.
“Last season we won the title after 10th place and when you win the title in this way, it’s a great, great achievement.
“Your name is Chelsea and in the past you won many titles and you have to see what you are going through.”