Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte admits that he was forced to play the recently acquired Ross Barkley due to a lack of available options in his side’s 2-1 loss to Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final. Conte also went on to say that the attacking midfielder acquired from Everton this January transfer window still has a learning curve to experience before he’s truly integrated into this Blues team.
The 24-year-old Liverpool native made his Chelsea debut today, coming on for the injured Willian.
“I think Willian’s injury was decisive. We don’t have many players to make (attacking) substitutions,” Conte said.
“I was a bit forced to play with Barkley. He’s a really good player and important or Chelsea but needs bit of time to get used to playing for us.”
“He has a lot of space for improvement. He’s working with us only two weeks. For sure today I was forced to make this substitution, but at the same time he can improve a lot.”
Barkley was signed for five and a half years by the defending champions on January 5, for a transfer fee of £15 million. Chelsea tried to sign him in the summer transfer window, but the deal fell apart at the last minute on deadline day.
Although Conte is obviously disappointed in the result today, his team is still alive in the Champions League, FA Cup and engaged in a fierce battle for a Premier league top four finish.
“There is disappointment for the final result, but I think I must be pleased for the effort of all my players,” the Italian added.
“We tried to reach the final. We conceded two unlucky goals, two deflections are very difficult to see during a game. It’s a pity because we had a good run in this competition.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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