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Antonio Conte preaches patience with young Costa understudy Michy Batshuayi

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Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With Diego Costa serving a one-match suspension on Monday due to yellow card accumulation, Antonio Conte needs to find a different solution at center forward for the first time in his Premier League career. The assumption is that he will opt for the obvious solution and choose to start young understudy Michy Batshuayi in Diego’s stead, but Conte has remained rather non-committal on this issue when asked.

“Yeah I spoke about Michy in the post-game conference. I said it's not easy to arrive in this league and to play when you are a young player, arriving in a new country.”

"For me it's difficult to arrive and adapt in this league because it's very tough, very physical and strong.”

"Michy is working very well. We must have patience with him, to work with him, help him improve. The next step is to play more in this season but I repeat it's not day to adapt in this league, to adapt and to play."

-Antonio Conte; source: Star

The next step is to play but ... that’s not exactly what I would call full backing for the young striker from the head coach. Plenty of positive words but even more qualifiers to take the shine off the positivity.

Michy has featured regularly off the bench, spelling Costa or adding late-game threat when needed, but his last actual start didn’t quite go to plan as Chelsea were eliminated by West Ham in the League Cup. Batshuayi will have to do better on Monday, should Conte place his faith in the youngster.