West London Sport

Wilkins: Conte should put his faith in Chelsea youngsters

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Ray Wilkins believes Antonio Conte has been let down by his senior players and should put his faith in Chelsea’s youngsters in order to turn things around at Stamford Bridge.

The 4-1 defeat at Watford has increased speculation that Conte could be sacked as Blues boss.

The Hillingdon-born Wilkins, who has served Chelsea as a player, coach and assistant manager, has insisted Conte should be retained.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Wilkins said: “What about the players? It’s time they started performing.

“They’re putting in performances now that got Jose Mourinho the sack. They’re doing exactly the same thing now as when they got Mourinho the sack.

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“They’ve got to play for this guy. He coaches with a lot of passion. The players just aren’t performing.

“I don’t think the dressing room is strong enough, with enough characters in there. Where are the John Terrys who are going to pull this dressing room up?

“It’s about time some of these big players, or so-called big players, started standing up and started performing.”

Wilkins believes Conte will get more time – and says the Italian should now put his faith in youth.

The former QPR boss has been a consistent critic of Chelsea for not giving younger players more of a chance, condemning the sale of Nathaniel Chalobah to Watford and the loaning out of the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham.

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Wilkins said: “He’s got to make changes. I think he will still be there – so long as he’s in the top four I think Roman Abramovich will go easy on him.

“I’d like to see him throw a few of the younger guys in and give them the opportunity, because when the likes of (Ethan) Ampadu have come in…and Loftus-Cheek’s the best player Crystal Palace have had this year.

“Chalobah went to Watford for £6m. They bought Tiemoue Bakayoko for £40m. Both are the same age. Where is the £34m differential between those two players? I just don’t see it.

“You’ve got an English boy who’s growing up playing over a hundred games for England, through the ranks, and we let him go to Watford for £6m.

“He loves Chelsea, he’s a Chelsea boy, and I just can’t see for the life of me why we do this.”