Chelsea's Antonio Conte seeking 'different solution' from fringe players
LONDON -- Antonio Conte has urged the fringe members of his Chelsea squad to give him a "different solution" if they get their chance to impress in Wednesday's EFL Cup fourth-round clash with West Ham.
Chelsea head into the match on the back of three consecutive victories in the Premier League, but Conte has already hinted that he could make several changes to the starting XI that swept aside Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
John Terry is expected to return to the heart of Conte's three-man defence, while Branislav Ivanovic is also available again after shaking off an injury picked up on international duty with Serbia and Willian is back in contention following compassionate leave.
"In these last three games we played very well, and it's important when you play with the same players, they take confidence in the role to play together," Conte said. "But it's important also in this game to find a solution, because if you get an injury it's important to have a good solution ready.
"Tomorrow we can find a different solution, but I want the players to give me a good answer."
Conte's shift to a 3-4-3 and desire for his team to play a high defensive line have raised doubts over Terry's long-term viability in Chelsea's starting XI, but the Italian insisted that the 35-year-old is capable of battling his way back.
Talking about the requirements of his back three, Conte said: "Above all, the two central defenders on the right or the left [of the three] must be very fast, and also to be aggressive.
"The player that plays in the middle of the three defenders must be more tactical, to find the right position to call the line up or down."
Asked whether Terry could fit into this structure, he added: "John is a fantastic player because every day he shows me and his teammates a great attitude, great behaviour, great commitment, and he works very hard.
"If John has this will he can continue. I don't see a problem."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.