Conte explains why Chelsea youngsters should still feel motivated

Posted March 18, 2017

"I think he's available but, before Stoke it's important to check a couple of situations".

The Belgium global has been in scintillating form for the Premier League leaders this season, and was the victim of numerous fouls during the opening exchanges of Monday's FA Cup quarter-final victory over Manchester United.

"It's always very hard to take always the best decision", he said.

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The 36-year-old has played five times in the league, which is enough for him to get a medal after the threshold for number of games to receive one was halved from 10 in 2012. Without the ball I think he is incredible.

"He is a young player but he can improve a lot".

Conte does not regard any of that trio as first-team players and is frustrated at what he perceives to be a lack of financial backing from the club, particularly compared to the transfer outlay of both Manchester clubs last summer. "We have a target [to win the title] and it's important we concentrate on trying to reach that target".

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"That is my task, to try to make the best decision for the team, but sometimes it's normal that you can make mistakes in your choices". I hope that, at the end of the season, one of my players could be.

Chelsea believe they can sell Costa for a hefty sum, and the striker is ready to step into Benzema's role at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It meant youngsters like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ole Aina, Michy Batshuayi and Nathan Ake - as well as experienced players like John Terry and Asmir Begovic - were omitted. They are a really strong team; a physical team but also with great players with good technique.

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There was more drama to come with Celtic denied a clear penalty just seconds later as Leigh Griffiths was brought down in the box. A late Clint Hill equaliser helped the Gers become only the second team to take points off the champions this season.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent.