With Gary Cahill sidelined due to injury and outgoing club legend John Terry unlikely to get the starting nod, Antonio Conte appears to have found a suitable replacement for Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal.
The Chelsea manager believes that Nathan Ake, who recently returned to the club from a loan spell with Bournemouth, will be ready to fill the void left by Cahill when the Blues face Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.
Ake, 22, has been in the Chelsea system since joining the club’s youth academy in 2011, but now could be the Dutchman’s big opportunity to make an impression after having previously only making 14 appearances over four seasons.
“Ake thinks he deserves to have this chance to play,” Conte said. “He is showing me his all in this period, always great commitment. He worked very hard. His behaviour was great, was fantastic, and he never told anything.
“Don’t forget that Ake was playing every game with Bournemouth, and he wanted to come and to stay with us to try to work together and to help us to fight for the title.
During his time with Bournemouth this season, Ake has greatly impressed. In 12 appearances across all competitions, the young defender had notched three goals prior to being recalled by Chelsea earlier this week.
Conte added: “I think he’s a good player, I think he’s ready to have this opportunity, to have this chance, he deserves this opportunity and I trust him. I have no problem to take this decision.
“I think for this position Ake has the right characteristic to be the substitute for Gary.”Follow @MattReedFutbol