We've heard this "excuse", if we want to call it an excuse, many times before. Here's Conte, just like Mourinho before him just to pick a name entirely at random, saying just how badly he wanted to give minutes to a young player, only to be thwarted by forces beyond his control.
"The first disappointment is mine because I wanted to put Chalobah on in the second half and play him but the situation didn't permit this, and I preferred to put Oscar on until the end."
"The situation could have become very dangerous. It's a pity because I wanted to permit him to play and also because he deserves to play. He's a good young player."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
I'm reminded of poor ol'e Josh McEachran, too, who, on at least two occasions under Villas-Boas, was the innocent victim to someone else's mistake, sacrificed for a defensive substitution early after a red card, or staying on the bench because Chelsea couldn't make short work of lower quality opposition.
Certainly, luck and simply being in the right place at the right time are significant factors in a player's development. Chelsea stormed out of the gates on Tuesday and had we not given up goals at 2-0 and 3-1, it's quite likely that Chalobah would've finally made the debut that he's been waiting on for six years.
6 years after a 15-year-old Nathaniel Chalobah named to Chelsea bench, he's still waiting to make debut— Jake Cohen (@JakeFCohen) August 23, 2016
Good things come to those who wait?
But Chelsea allowed Bristol Rovers to keep it close and the pressures being what they are at the top level of football, Conte had to go with the option he trusted the most. And that option was Oscar, not Chalobah. Of course, it's a bit disingenuous to blame the game situation when you're the one calling the shots in the end. And it's not like Chalobah isn't a defensive player. And it's not like Eden Hazard really needed to make this appearance. But that is what the coach trusted at that moment.
Maybe if this hadn't been Conte's third match in charge, he could've afforded to risk this move in addition to all the changes he made in the starting lineup. But given the expectations at Chelsea, even (or especially) on the heels of a terrible season, Conte needed this win. It's his job, to win. Those reasons shouldn't necessarily rule out an appearance from the youngster, but at this point in time, they are strong enough. Conte's still setting the tone for what is hopefully a good season and a multi-year spell in charge; risking more than necessary against a side two divisions lower is not in that script.
Fortunately, it sounds like Chalobah will get further chances to impress, both in training and, hopefully, in actual competitive games as well.
Conte confirms Chalobah will stay as a member of the squad. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 23, 2016