Antonio Conte has told Chelsea's young players to play their way into his first team, saying: "If you are good enough to play with a great team, you play."
Speaking ahead of Chelsea's EFL Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, Conte defended the club's approach to nurturing talented youngsters, insisting age is no barrier to breaking through at Stamford Bridge.
Conte was asked whether the clash with Forest would provide an opportunity for the likes of 17-year-old defender Ethan Ampadu to be part of the first team squad.
"Yes," replied Conte. "Ampadu is a young player, but I think he has good quality. He has good prospects to become a Chelsea player.
"If you are good enough to play with a great team, you play. Every coach wants to win.
"If an old player, 36-years-old, makes me happy and helps me to win, I pick him. It's the same if a young player, 16-years-old, helps me to win. I'm ready to do this also."
Conte rejected the suggestion that limited first team opportunities drove Nathaniel Chalobah, who joined Watford in July after making 10 Premier League appearances in seven years at Chelsea, away from the club.
He held up 21-year-old defender Andreas Christensen, who has made four appearances this season, as an example for other young players to follow.
"Chalobah had the chance to play," said Conte. "Don't forget last season we won the league. Don't forget last season our midfielders were Matic, Kante and Fabregas. Chalobah was the fourth midfielder.
"If you ask to play regularly with a great club, then you must deserve to play. If you show you deserve to play and can be better than these players, I'm ready to do this.
"We have a clear example with Christensen. Christensen played on loan at Borussia Moenchengladbach and now he's in our squad.
"Don't forget that my first appearance in Serie A was when I was 16. I think I'm the first person to trust in the young players, to give possibilities to them, if young players deserve this chance."
The Italian warned his players against complacency versus Forest, who have won three of their five away games this season.
"We want to do our best in every competition but it's not simple," Conte added.
"Sometimes you have the opportunity to give chances to some players who, at this moment, are not playing a lot. But these competitions in England are very tough.
"It's normal to take a risk. Nottingham Forest beat Newcastle in the previous round, so we must pay great attention."
|McIlroy suggests limiting alcohol sales after Bay Hill abuse|
|Marotta dismisses Allegri-PSG links as Juve focus on Can|
|MLS Review: Champions Toronto still winless, Atlanta crush Whitecaps|
|Lukaku: A lot of players will join Manchester United next season|
|I feel like I just woke up – Indian Wells finalist Federer explains slow start|
|High-flying Reds win third straight in Buenos Aires|
|Salah and Liverpool don´t fear Man City: We´ve beaten them!|
|What can I lose? - Mourinho defends criticism of Man Utd players|
|Mourinho accuses Manchester United of being scared to play|
|Mourinho delivers stinging Shaw criticism after FA Cup win|
|Haskell: England not good enough during Six Nations|
|Allegri waits on Chiellini update after Juve´s SPAL stalemate|
|Stenson leads by one with DeChambeau and McIlroy lurking|
|Racing put pressure on leaders Montpellier as Toulon are toppled|
|Klopp eases concerns over Can´s back complaint|
|Six Nations defeats make no difference to England mindset – Hartley|
|Matic was an island of personality - Mourinho questions United mentality|
|Del Potro demolishes Raonic to set up Federer final|
|He´s getting quicker on the Zimmer frame – Schmidt jokes about Best future|
|SPAL 0 Juventus 0: Scudetto charge halted by Serie A strugglers|
|Manchester United 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Lukaku & Matic book semi-final spot|
|Fresh rib fracture for Cavendish but ´no serious injury´ after crash|
|Unbeaten Federer fights back to reach Indian Wells final|
|Klopp: Salah could be among world´s best, but don´t compare him to Messi|
|Woods hopes to still be within reach at Arnold Palmer Invitational|
|Championship Review: Wolves on the charge as Monk lifts Birmingham´s spirits|
|Twickenham boos will ´put me to sleep at night´, Jones claims|
|Salah threatening Rush´s record for goals in single Liverpool season|
|Hodgson hopes Zaha avoided injury|
|Snow causes Wakefield-Widnes abandonment|
|Liverpool 5 Watford 0: Inspirational Salah nets four as Reds bounce back|
|Lambert rues Everton´s ´offside´ opener in costly Stoke City defeat|
|Scotland´s late rally leaves Townsend feeling positive for the future|
|Wales hold off France to claim second behind Ireland|
|Man Utd bench Pogba & Sanchez for FA Cup quarter-final|
|Pardew: Evans loss key to Bournemouth defeat|
|Zarco breaks track record to claim Qatar pole after Rossi crashes in practice|
|Ireland had to make every moment count against England – Best|
|Salah breaks Torres´ impressive Liverpool record|
|We are not heroes one day and villains the next – Mourinho continues defence of Sevilla exit|
|Lions bounce back against Sunwolves, Stormers end miserable streak|
|Jones: England losing streak only natural|
|They have many players who´d get in my team – The Sevilla stars Mourinho should buy|
|Mario Gomez will not beg for World Cup place|
|England´s form continues to run cold in Twickenham snow|
|Nibali holds on in Milan-San Remo as Cavendish crashes again|
|Bournemouth 2 West Brom 1: Stanislas piles misery on Pardew|
|Buffon to play on for Italy as Di Biagio calls up uncapped duo|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Crystal Palace 2: Tomkins and Milivojevic secure priceless win|
|Stockdale makes history as ruthless Ireland win Grand Slam|
|Stoke City 1 Everton 2: Tosun at the double after Adam´s early dismissal|
|Simeone insists Atletico can survive injury crisis|
|Ireland´s Stockdale breaks Six Nations single campaign try record against England|
|Leipzig out to halt Bayern celebrations at Red Bull Arena|
|NFL Draft 2018: Jets acquire number three overall pick from Colts|
|Board accepts responsibility for West Ham woes, Brady claims|
|In-form Eriksen hopes he hasn´t hit Tottenham ceiling|
|Roma boss Di Francesco happy with Messi, Barca challenge|
|Bangladesh warned over ´unacceptable´ Colombo behaviour|
|The directors know where to find me - Gattuso awaits Milan talks|
|Laidlaw breaks Italian hearts in Rome|
|UMBC´s March Madness win earns everyone in USA free pizza|
|Zidane focused on Real Madrid players, not Neymar|
|Mourinho´s United rant recalls unhappy Madrid demise|
|Swansea City 0 Tottenham 3: Eriksen leads Kane-less Spurs into FA Cup semis|
|Valverde not worried about Barcelona legacy|
|Markelle Fultz´s return remains a mystery to Brett Brown|
|Bale is happy at Real Madrid, says Zidane|
|Spalletti seeks consistency as Inter prepare for final push|
|Absence of ´best in the world´ Busquets makes Rakitic key for Barca|