Chelsea boss Antonio Conte: Kenedy not being punished for China incident

LONDON -- Antonio Conte has confirmed that Kenedy will be one of the Chelsea fringe players given a chance to impress in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal against Bournemouth, and insisted that his lack of game time this season is not punishment for his preseason misdemeanour in China.

Kenedy has made just two appearances for Chelsea this season, both in the Carabao Cup, since being sent home from the club's preseason tour of the Far East for making derogatory comments about China on social media.

The 21-year-old's failure to earn a single Premier League minute, in spite of the fact that Conte has no other natural squad cover for Marcos Alonso in the left wing-back spot, has raised speculation that his exile is a consequence of the summer scandal that forced Chelsea into an embarrassing public apology.

However, asked about the China incident, Conte said: "This is the past. It happened, but we stop [there].

"When we came back from China and Kenedy started training with us, I had to make a technical decision and it's only this.

"I have to make technical decisions every game. In this case he deserves to have this opportunity to play and show he deserves to play for Chelsea."

Conte added that Kenedy has always trained with the Chelsea first team when fit, and insisted that there have been no issues with his professionalism.

"Kenedy tried to give everything during training," he added. "During these five months, the behaviour, the commitment was perfect. I think it's right, for this reason, to give him the opportunity and the chance to play an important game.

"I have to trust my players. Not only with words, but with facts. To show I trust my players and I want to give them a big opportunity in a big game to show me they deserve to play."

The only injury absentees for Chelsea ahead of the Bournemouth match are David Luiz (knee inflammation) and Charly Musonda (muscular problem), but Conte also signalled his intention to rest key players such as Alvaro Morata and N'Golo Kante.

In their place will come Michy Batshuayi and Danny Drinkwater, while promising academy youngsters Ethan Ampadu, Dujon Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi are also likely to make the match day squad after training regularly with the first team at Cobham.

"These players are the future for Chelsea," Conte said. "Sterling is a really good player for Chelsea. Odoi won the World Cup. Ampadu played the last game against Everton [from the substitutes' bench]. Maybe he could start also tomorrow.

"I must consider the young players if they deserve to have this chance. Sterling, a lot of times, is working with us. Ampadu is always there every day with the first-team. And Odoi is another player who deserves to have a chance to show he can play for this team for 10 years, for 15 years."