Conte: Working with the young
news Mon 5 Feb 2018
Antonio Conte has been discussing the lowering of the average age of the Chelsea squad and the best way of tackling the busy schedule faced by the top Premier League clubs.
The Blues head coach takes his side to Vicarage Road for tonight's game against Watford with Alvaro Morata and Andreas Christensen both confirmed as absentees, although Willian may be back in contention for a return following the injury that forced him off against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
Our run to the last four of that competition, along with progress in the FA Cup and Champions League, means this is the first midweek without the Blues in action since the international break at the start of November. Because of that, Conte has adapted training.
'If you compare to the other clubs you can see we have less injuries,' he said. 'The only problem this season is that we are playing a lot and our squad wasn't big enough to give the right rest. I think we are working less than last season.
'For sure you have to change your plan, your work, when you play every three days – it's impossible to give intensity in these two days between one game and another.
'Sometimes, when I had the possibility, I tried to give a window of little work for the players that I decided to rest.
'But in this country, with four competitions and the great intensity of every game, you have to face a season with a big squad. I think it's very important to understand and find the best solution for the future.'
This season the average age of the Chelsea squad has come down and that was emphasised by the fact two of our January additions, Ross Barkley and Emerson Palmieri, are 24 and 23 years old respectively.
'As you can see, we are working a lot also with, for example, Ampadu. He's only 17 years old. Christensen is only 21 years old. Bakayoko is only 23. Zappacosta only 25. We took a lot of young players. With Christensen, we are trying to develop the young players of the Academy.
'I think we are doing a fantastic job. We are trying to build something important with work – not with words or money.'