Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte insists Cesc Fabregas and Oscar have a future at Stamford Bridge.
The Spanish and Brazilian playmakers have been peripheral figures at Chelsea this season, with Conte masterminding a steep upturn in form by reverting to a 3-4-3 formation within which both men do not appear to have an obvious role.
Fabregas has been grappling with a thigh injury since making a solitary Premier League start this term in the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.
Conte’s switch to the system that served him so well with Juventus and Italy came after that match, with five wins from five Premier League matches and no goals conceded as a result.
Oscar has featured twice as a substitute during this period but his boss offered words of encouragement at a pre-match news conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Middlesbrough.
“His future is Chelsea, full stop,” he said.
“For me he is an important player in the squad. He’s in good form and a great player.”
On Fabregas, he added: “He is in a good shape and available for Sunday, for sure.
“It’s the same for him as for Oscar [on his future].”
One change that could occur for Conte’s first-team picture is the departure of his assistant Steve Holland, who has been working alongside Gareth Southgate during the latter’s stint as interim England manager.
If Southgate is offered the role on a full-time basis as expected, Holland may choose country over club and he would depart with a glowing endorsement from Conte.
“Steve Holland is a great professional and I am pleased to have him as my assistant coach, for his work and commitment, and the man also,” he said.
“Steve is focused for Chelsea and working very hard for us. Then, in the future, I don’t know what the FA’s decision is. But I don’t want to go into it.
“He worked with Southgate in the Under-21s and showed his ability.”