Conte backs Barkley after difficult Chelsea debut

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Antonio Conte backed Ross Barkley following the recent signing’s disappointing Chelsea debut.

Barkley, who had hamstring surgery last year, had not played a first-team game prior to coming on as a substitute during the Carabao Cup semi-final defeat at Arsenal.

With the likes of Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas sidelined, Blues boss Conte sent Barkley on when Willian was forced to come off injured after half an hour.

Barkley found the going tough, giving the ball away on a number of occasions as he clearly lacked match sharpness.

Conte said: “We don’t have many players to make a substitution. Don’t forget that Morata was out.

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“I was a bit forced to play with Ross Barkley. Ross is a really good player, a good prospect, and very important for Chelsea, but at the same time he needs a bit of time to understand our idea of football.

“He has to work a lot but I am very happy for his game and for his effort.”

Conte also revealed that Willian does not believe his injury is serious.

“I have spoken to the player and he said to me he felt a bit of a problem in his hamstring,” the Italian explained.

“He doesn’t think it will be a serious injury and we hope this sensation is right.”