Antonio Conte has tough decisions to make as he looks to find the correct balance between youth and experience for his side’s trip to the Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Italian confirmed in his pre-match press conference that David Luiz, Marcos Alonso and Charly Musonda would not be featuring tonight. Conte said that everyone was fit and also in good form, it was only a matter of making the best choice for the match at the Molineux.
David Luiz picked up a knee injury at the Etihad earlier in the season, but has soldiered on despite it. He took to the field in their last trip to Burnley and the discomfort faced by the Brazilian was obvious. Conte insisted that this was a good opportunity to allow him some much needed rest.
“All the players are available but there are situations which are better to keep under control. Marcos Alonso needs a bit of rest, and with David Luiz we have an opportunity to give him a full week to recover well,” he said.
He added,”His knee is okay, it’s improved a lot since the game at Man City. It’s important to keep the situation under control. He’s doing training sessions with the physical coach.”
Conte also confirmed that Captain John Terry was fit and available for selection. The 35-year-old is likely to start alongside Kurt Zouma in the center of defence. They will team up with either Cesar Azpilicueta or Gary Cahill in Conte’s back 3.
Conte took time to praise his side’s youth academy, insisting that the link between the academy and the first team was an important one to have. He said,”These young players have stayed with me because they deserve it, not because I want to give them a gift. In the future I hope to absorb many players from the Academy”
Nathan Ake is sure to start due to Alonso being rested, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah are also in line to making the starting XI after having impressed against Brentford. With Ivanovic no longer in the squad, Ola Aina may feature over the course of the game at right-wingback.
Michy Batshuayi is sure to start this tie ahead of Diego Costa, who has seen his form drop considerably since the start of the year. A week off would surely do the Spaniard a world of good and this would also allow the Belgian to try and remind Conte of his abilities.
Conte insisted that he was confident that Costa would sign and stay on post the summer, but remained coy on Dominic Solanke’s current situation. It is unlikely that the young Englishman would feature in any capacity tomorrow given the rumours surrounding his future.