Conte urges 'talented' Musonda to work on physical game with Chelsea
LONDON -- Antonio Conte urged Charly Musonda to continue taking his first-team opportunities after the 20-year-old produced a virtuoso performance in Chelsea's 5-1 demolition of Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup third round.
Handed his first Chelsea start at Stamford Bridge, Musonda scored his first goal for the club and wowed supporters with a series of tricks, dribbles and incisive passes as the youthful XI picked by Conte sailed past Mark Warburton's men, who also made eight changes.
Michy Batshuayi scored a hat trick and Kenedy also found the net on his first appearance since being sent home from Chelsea's preseason tour of China, while there was even a chance for Conte to give academy youngsters Ethan Ampadu, Jake Clarke-Salter and Dujon Sterling minutes from the substitutes' bench.
"I think Charly played very well," Conte said of Musonda. "He's trying to work a lot to improve his physical impact with this league. Don't forget this league is very strong in the physical aspect. We are working a lot with Charly in this aspect to be ready to play in this league.
"For sure he's a talented player and he has to continue in this way. When there is the opportunity, the chance, to help us [by playing], he must do this.
"I think we must be pleased for the performance because we won the game. We get to play the next round. It's very positive for us.
"Tonight I gave the opportunity, the chance, to some players to play this game. The answer was very good, very positive. I [also] had the possibility to give a chance for the young players from our academy. I think this is very positive. For sure a good night for us."
Everton will be Chelsea's fourth-round opponents at Stamford Bridge, and Conte did not rule out the possibility of sticking with the same players against Ronald Koeman's struggling side.
"It's a tough game," he admitted. "You know very well that Everton is one of the best teams in this league, but we are ready. We are ready to face the next round. We have to continue in this way. We are a great club, for this reason every competition is important to us. If we answer like this, why not continue to give the opportunity to these players?
"Now it's very difficult to [predict] the starting XI against Everton. You don't know what happens during this period. We must go game by game and then see. When I have this type of answer, I'm very happy. I'm very happy because I understand every single player is ready to play."
Andreas Christensen produced another assured display at the heart of Chelsea's back three in the absence of David Luiz, who served the first game of a three-match ban for his straight red card against Arsenal on Sunday.
Luiz also broke a bone in his wrist crashing into the advertising boards during the game, but Conte expects to be able to call upon the Brazilian when Chelsea take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League group stage at Stamford Bridge next week.
"He must be okay!" Conte said with a smile. "You know very well David is an important player for us. For sure I know what happened at the end of the first half, but he will be ready for the game against Atletico Madrid."
Conte was also asked about the preseason controversy involving Kenedy, but side-stepped questions on it, preferring to focus on his performance against Everton.
"Kenedy played very well,'' Conte said. "He's working very well, he's working a lot. When there will be the opportunity, a new chance, he must exploit it.''
Chelsea's next midweek match is next Wednesday's Champions League tie at Atletico Madrid.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.