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."
|´Magician´ Conte spells out willingness to fight at Chelsea|
|Otamendi and Stones making light of Kompany absence for Guardiola|
|West Ham 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 3: Murray double piles pressure back on Bilic|
|NBA icon Kobe Bryant meets Neymar and Mbappe on PSG visit|
|Dyche not ´running away´ from Burnley as Leicester links intensify|
|UEFA fails to fine Spartak over racist chants in Youth League game|
|Can committed to Liverpool despite contract impasse|
|Bernat steps up recovery for Bayern comeback|
|Higuain has ´nothing to prove´ despite latest Argentina snub|
|Suarez struggles no concern for Barca boss Valverde|
|Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG´s Messi|
|Sarri could have been finance minister! - Spalletti marvels at Napoli boss´ rise|
|Douglas Costa secures Brazil recall for Japan and England friendlies|
|McTominay lands new Manchester United deal|
|Rose ready for Spurs return, but won´t start vs Liverpool|
|Koeman confident Everton signings will come good|
|Under-fire Burki lands new four-year Dortmund deal|
|Conte admits to Chelsea midfield crisis ahead of Watford clash|
|Sanchez and Ramsey boost Arsenal for Goodison trip|
|Mane still in rehab, but Klopp won´t block Senegal call-up|
|Mourinho has ´a feeling´ Ibrahimovic will be back in 2017|
|Conte dismisses Mourinho feud as ´a stupid issue´|
|Always Man City can do better - Guardiola challenges Premier League leaders|
|Klopp anticipating Spurs thriller after Man Utd snoozefest|
|Mawson and Daniels join Mata´s Common Goal|
|Hughes thankful for Stoke stability after ´emotional´ Premier League sackings|
|Bosz determined to turn around Dortmund slump|
|UEFA charge Everton after fans strike Lyon players|
|Adelaide United 2 Melbourne Victory 2: Austin pegs back United after Lia double|
|Real Madrid blow as Navas suffers thigh injury|
|Muller close to his old self again, says Heynckes|
|Everton ban fan involved in ugly Lyon scenes|
|Manchester City star De Bruyne wants trophies, not awards|
|UEFA charge Roma over alleged racist chanting at Chelsea match|
|Ibrahimovic tipped for December return by training partner Cole|
|Schweinsteiger ´open to everything´ as he nears end of Chicago Fire contract|
|Neymar confirmed wish to leave Barcelona at Messi´s wedding, says Xavi|
|De Bruyne: Man City, United fighting for title|
|Wilshere will get Premier League chance – Wenger|
|Giroud: I got lucky with Red Star winner|
|Montella urges fans to ´stand by´ Milan after San Siro boos|
|Koeman admits he could be sacked by Everton|
|Everton 1 Lyon 2: Koeman feeling the heat, while Williams brawl overshadows spectacle|
|AC Milan 0 AEK Athens 0: Frustration mounts for Montella in dour draw|
|Giroud promised special winner, Wenger reveals|
|Former Croatia striker Klasnic undergoes third kidney operation|
|Red Star Belgrade 0 Arsenal 1: Giroud´s special winner lights up drab encounter|
|Shakespeare: Leicester will ´pull away´ from Premier League danger|
|Robben yet to hold talks over new Bayern Munich contract|
|Bilic denies West Ham have discipline problem|
|Benteke progressing ´ahead of schedule´|
|Ancelotti to Leicester unlikely, says Clement|
|Dyche not aware of any approach amid Leicester speculation|
|I love you, take my watch! – How Arnautovic earned a special gift from Mourinho|
|´Surprised´ Appleton calls for Foxes focus after Shakespeare sacking|
|Brighton boss Hughton feels ´unacceptable´ behaviour remains in football|
|Benzema ´very happy´ at Real Madrid amid Arsenal rumours|
|Azpilicueta admits to low mood in Chelsea camp|
|Bacca: I played for the worst AC Milan in history|
|Aluko ´100 per cent´ in England contention, says interim boss|
|Injured Napoli striker Milik hints at loan move|
|Dortmund not expecting Reus exit|
|Neymar plans to emulate Messi by mentoring Mbappe|
|Mourinho still unclear on fitness of Pogba and Fellaini|
|Heynckes happy with Muller form|
|Kane describes Ronaldo as ´role model´ following shirt swap|
|PSG star Mbappe: Monaco need time|
|I have full support of Everton board, claims Koeman|
|Wilshere: Arsenal´s character can´t be questioned|
|No-one can compete with Messi – Bartomeu|
|Man United risk losing identity under Mourinho – Bellamy|
|Valverde hopes Messi scores 200th European goal this season|
|Stop worrying about Chelsea – Conte hits back at Mourinho|
|Roma better than Chelsea, says Nainggolan|
|Basel coach Wicky demands more focus|
|Heynckes calls for patience from Bayern´s reserve stars|
|Emery calls for PSG improvement despite perfect start|
|Pique handball instinctive, says Barcelona boss Valverde|
|Dzeko was born to score – Di Francesco|