Conte to name strongest Chelsea side for Leicester FA Cup tie
Antonio Conte has pledged to name his strongest Chelsea side for the FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City on Sunday.
Conte has regularly rotated his squad through Chelsea's run to the last eight, but the FA Cup is their last chance of silverware after a Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday.
The Blues were beaten 3-0 at Camp Nou to depart at the last-16 stage, but have a chance to bounce back when they head to the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
Conte will be taking no risks with his team selection as Chelsea aim to reach the final for the second year in a row, having lost to London rivals Arsenal last season.
"I think every trophy is important for us," Conte told reporters on Friday. "We started the season wanting to fight to the end for every competition and in the EFL Cup we reached the semi-finals, Champions League we reached the last 16, now there is the FA Cup and it is important.
"If we win we play another semi-final at Wembley, every competition is important and we try to do our best in every competition. This must be our target. We have to try to do both [quality for the Champions League and win the FA Cup], to go to the next round and try to reach the semi-final.
"It won't be easy, Leicester are a good team, we suffered when we played at home against them [a 0-0 draw in January], but we must also do our best in the Premier League and try to get into the Champions League, but it won't be easy.
"Now we are not playing every two days - we played against Barcelona but we have the full week to rest and recover - so I'll pick the best solution for tomorrow's game.
"It's difficult [to respond to the Barca defeat] but it's football. It was a pity to go out especially after two good performances against Barcelona, but this is football and it is life. Now we have to face another competition and for this reason we must trust in our strength and try to move on."
We have fought until the end, but we couldn’t get a place on the next round. Let’s keep heads up and focus on the next game. Come on Blues! / Peleamos hasta el final, pero no logramos el objetivo. Toca levantar la cabeza y pensar en el próximo partido #CFC #UCL pic.twitter.com/c9QAjB9oH3— Pedro Rodríguez (@_Pedro17_) March 14, 2018
Thibaut Courtois was beaten through his legs twice by Lionel Messi against Barca, the goalkeeper accepting he made mistakes in the tie, but Conte indicated he will not take the Belgium international out of the firing line.
"We are talking about two good goalkeepers - Thibaut and Willy [Caballero] - we don't have a rule for the competition," he said. "I repeat, I'll try to make the best decision because we want to try to go to the next round."
After losing their places in the Chelsea side, Alvaro Morata and club captain Gary Cahill were left out of the Spain and England squads respectively this week.
"I think this question is for the coach of the national team, not for me," Conte said when asked for his thoughts. "My only worry is to have the players in the best form for Chelsea, then it's up to the national team coach to make the best decision for their country.
On Morata's lack of form, the striker failing to score so far in 2018, Conte added: "Maybe he will score on Sunday."