Chelsea boss Antonio Conte suggested improving the defensive side of his game is Cesc Fabregas’ most likely route back into the first team.
Fabregas struck a quickfire extra-time brace as Chelsea completed an impressive turnaround, beating 10-man Leicester City 4-2 in the third round of the EFL Cup.
The Spain international is yet to start a Premier League match under Conte and, although he praised Fabregas, the Italian was not ready to offer any guarantees.
“Cesc is Chelsea’s player, I am happy about him, for his attitude and his behaviour during training sessions,” the ex-Juventus coach told a post-match news conference.
“In my opinion he’s improving a lot in many aspects, above all the defensive situations.
“I’m very clear with my players: when a player deserves to play, I put him in the team.”
Fabregas’ former club Arsenal are up next in Saturday’s London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
“All the players in my squad have the possibility to play against Arsenal,” Conte continued.
“There are three days before the game and they have the opportunity to show me during the training sessions – to convince me to put them in.
“I want my players to create good competition and game by game give me the opportunity to choose the best line-up.”
Chelsea’s poor defending, which allowed Shinji Okazaki to put Leicester 2-0 up with a first-half brace, did not sit well with Conte, although he praised the character shown by his players after Gary Cahill launched the fightback on the stroke of the interval and Cesar Azpilicueta volleyed in a sensational equaliser.
“I am not happy about the two goals we conceded but I saw a great reaction from the players and this is very important,” he added.
“They showed the will to win – the will to go through to the next round.
“We know we can improve a lot, but I was pleased with the attitude and commitment of my players.”