Maurizio Sarri will be without three first-team players when Chelsea begin their FA Cup campaign against Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The defending FA Cup champions will be taking on Nottingham Forest in the third round for the second successive year, when Chelsea welcome Aitor Karanka’s men to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. And, Maurizio Sarri is expected to ring in the changes when his men begin the defence of their title.
As has been customary during cup competitions, Gianfranco Zola took Sarri’s place in the pre-match press conference, confirming that the injuries in the squad, coupled with the need to rest a few players, means the youngsters will get their chance against Forest.
“The injuries will leave space for some of the young players. There are players who have played five or six games in a short period of time, so it will be necessary to do a little bit of rotation.”
Most of the young players though, should feature from the bench, with only one or two, who have already broken into the senior squad, expected to start. One of these players will likely be Ethan Ampadu, who should start at the heart of the Chelsea defence, with Andreas Christensen being his partner.
The back four ought to be completed by Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri, with Willy Caballero taking his place in goal to provide Kepa Arrizabalaga some much needed rest. Meanwhile, Gary Cahill is unlikely to feature as he inches closer to a loan move away from Stamford Bridge.
In midfield, Ross Barkley might not be rested, owing to Danny Drinkwater’s imminent departure from Chelsea. But, Mateo Kovacic and Cesc Fabregas, who will likely be playing for the final time for Chelsea, should start.
Up ahead in attack, the injuries to Willian, Pedro and Olivier Giroud means Sarri cannot rotate all of his men. But, Eden Hazard is likely to be given the day off, with Zola suggesting the same.
“Eden has been fantastic in this period, he has played a lot of games and we are very demanding of him because he is such an influential player. So tomorrow I believe he might get a rest but we are in a situation where we don’t have many players, but the idea is to give him some rest.”
One player who is likely to feature is Callum Hudson-Odoi, despite his uncertain future, with Zola iterating, “Callum Hudson-Odoi is back in full training. Yesterday he trained with the whole team and he is certainly available. It is very much looking like he is going to play.”
Hudson-Odoi should take Hazard’s place on the left side of the Chelsea attack, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek manning the opposite flank. Alvaro Morata should complete the side, being the only fit senior striker in the squad.