Antonio Conte says FA Cup changes 'dangerous' for Chelsea's title hopes
By Stephen Turner
Last Updated: 17/02/17 3:07pm
Antonio Conte will not risk wrecking Chelsea's Premier League momentum by resting his regular players for Saturday's FA Cup trip to Wolves.
Wanderers are aiming to claim a third Premier League scalp in the competition on Saturday following away wins at Stoke and Liverpool in previous rounds.
And while Marcos Alonso and David Luiz have been given the weekend off, Conte will call on many of his star names in an attempt to avoid a defeat he believes could threaten Chelsea's league position as well as ending any hope of the domestic double he craves.
"All the players are available," said Conte, who would not confirm reports Diego Costa is close to signing a new deal. "But for sure there are situations that is better to keep under control, and for Marcos Alonso to give him a bit of rest.
"Also for David Luiz, and we have the opportunity to give him a week to recover very well and prepare for next game. All the players are in good form and I have only the problem to make the best choices for the game.
"When we have this type of game it's very important to find the right balance, and it could be a good opportunity to see some players that now are not playing a lot.
"But I don't want a lot of my players to stop for 14 days and then to restart - this could be very dangerous for us, and also because this competition is very important for us and we must go in the next round for club, the fans, the team..."
Conte won two domestic doubles during his three years at Juventus and is hungry for a repeat in his first season in England, with Chelsea eight points clear in the league.
He said: "Usually I like to win and I like to try to win with my team every competition in every season, but for sure it won't be easy in the league, and in the FA Cup the same.
"But if you ask me, for sure - we must have this winning mentality. When you are Chelsea's coach or player you must have this ambition to try to win the competition you play."
Academy graduates Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah are in contention to feature at Molineux at the end of a week which saw the club's U18 side reach the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup for the eighth year running.
Conte said: "A lot of young players are in my squad now, and it's important to have this link with the first team and the academy and exploit work of academy.
"The young players who stay with me in the squad stay because they deserve it, not because i want to give them a gift. I hope in the future to absorb many players from our academy."
One young player who could be on his way out of Chelsea is striker Dominic Solanke, whose contract is up in the summer.
"I don't know his future," Conte said. "I wish for him and his family the best. I'm not sure, but I think this is his will [to leave]."