After seeing his side return to winning ways against Newcastle United on Sunday, Conte will be hoping we can record a second consecutive Premier League victory when we welcome Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge tonight.
Barkley made his debut for the club during last week’s game at Arsenal, replacing the injured Willian, before coming off the bench to play the last 20 minutes at the weekend, and Conte does not want to pinpoint how long it will be before we see the best of the midfielder.
‘I don’t know because when you arrive from a bad injury, and you didn’t play for six months, it’s not simple to recover the best form,’ said the Italian.
‘The player is working very well. I gave him the chance in the Carabao Cup against Arsenal, maybe because I was forced, because in a normal situation I would take more time with him, but the player is working very well and trying to come into our idea of football.
‘Tonight he could be in contention to play and for sure we have to put aside the risk to push the player to come into the team quickly because we need to do this.
‘We have Morata and Willian out injured, we don’t have many solutions, but I’m very happy because the player has great potential and he’s changing the way he plays. Now he has to think with the ball and without the ball.’
Conte also spoke about being pleasantly surprised by Barkley’s physical condition given the nature of the injury he is coming back from, and where he believes the player best fits into the side.
‘Every player is desperate to play every game and I have to try to make the best decision for the team,’ he said. ‘Sometimes I’m forced to take decisions but in this case I’m very happy because in my mind I thought his physical condition was worse than the situation I found.
‘It was a positive surprise, you saw that in the game against Arsenal. After Willian’s injury he was my first substitution. My worry is not about his physical condition, only for him to go into our idea of football, to understand the movement without the ball and understand the movement with the ball, that’s the most important thing.
‘With the way we are playing he can play as a number 10, a striker, on the right or left. Or if we play with three midfielders he can play as one of the midfielders, either on the right or left, but not as the pivot.’
Conte confirmed in yesterday’s press conference he will be without Morata against Eddie Howe’s side, and the Blues boss highlighted why the Spaniard is in new territory since joining the club.
‘First of all you have to consider that this season is totally different for Morata because for the first time he’s the number nine for a team,’ Conte explained. ‘With Real Madrid he was always the first substitute, he wasn’t the number nine.
‘This the first experience for him of having this type of responsibility. Now, the only problem for him is to recover from his injury. He has an injury in his back and he must find the best physical condition because when you miss many games, and many training sessions, it means your physical form is dropping.
‘Now we have to solve the situation of the pain in his back and then work for him to find his best physical condition. We trust him.’
Hull City stand between Chelsea and a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup following Monday’s draw for the fifth round, and while Conte believes the Championship side should not be underestimated, with the fixture coming just a few days before the first leg of our Champions League fixture against Barcelona, he was simply pleased to be handed a home tie.
‘You can speak about (whether it is) a good draw after the game, if you win and you are in the next round,’ he said. ‘This cup is very difficult and every game is tough. We have to pay great attention.
‘For us to play at home is an advantage. You saw in the past, like in the first game against Norwich, we struggled a lot, and then we played at home to get through to the next round.
‘Before the game against Barcelona, to play at home is positive.’