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Chelsea set for another ‘Academy Day’ as Conte rules out Drinkwater for Everton match

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Chelsea Training And Press Conference Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Antonio Conte is set to give center stage to youngsters and fringe players on Wednesday, when Chelsea take on Everton in the 4th round of the League Carabao Cup.

Conte did the same in the previous round as well, rotating no less than 9 players for the 5-1 victory over Nottingham Forest, giving starts to (eventual Man of the Match) Charly Musonda Jr and Kenedy, and bringing on a trio of Academy players as substitutes in Jake Clarke-Slater, Dujon Sterling, and Ethan Ampadu. We can expect a similar situation this time as well, with perhaps Ampadu (or Kyle Scott?) getting the start, even, as Conte is not counting with Danny Drinkwater recovering in time.

“I think for the game against Everton, it is impossible to recover for [Danny] Drinkwater. [Victor] Moses needs more time and so does [N'Golo] Kante.

“But I think this could be a good opportunity to give a chance to the young player like Charly Musonda, also Kenedy, young players who I think deserve the chance. They are working very hard, they are improving and we can see the improvement against Everton which is a tough game. It is important for me, important for the club. We will do this.”

Given the progress Drinkwater had made last week, there was some hope that he could return sooner rather than later, but it sounds like he won’t be involved just yet. The other two weren’t expected to be back until November at the earliest, though Conte was hopeful last week that we could have Kanté available for the match against AS Roma in a week’s time.

In an ideal world, Conte would simply cancel the Carabao Cup, as would other managers like Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho. But having two cups is one of the peculiar quirks of English football (as is football over the holidays), and Conte recognizes the importance of that. As a proving ground for youngsters, it really isn’t such a bad thing, is it?

"Now, if I have to see in a selfish way, I can tell you I agree [that the Carabao Cup isn't important]. But, we have to try and find the best solution and I try to protect the teams who are playing in Europe. It is not simple.

"On the other hand, this type of game is important as it gives you the chance to see the improvement of the players who have not been playing. I don’t know. It is very difficult to say something about this."

-Antonio Conte; source: Goal