Antonio Conte heaped praise on his young players after Chelsea withstood a battling second-half display from Everton to win 2-1 and book a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Goals from Antonio Rudiger and Willian secured the Blues’ passage into the last eight, despite a late consolation from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Conte handed a first start to 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu while Charly Musonda and Kenedy were also recalled having played in the previous round against Nottingham Forest, and the manager was encouraged by what he saw.
He said: “The performance was very good in the first half where we created chances to score. In the second half I think we suffered a bit, but it’s normal when you play against Everton. They are a good team and they have just changed the coach.
“This type of situation the players want to try and give more. It was a very dangerous game for us but I am very happy. I saw a lot of positive things, especially the young players.
“Musonda, Kenedy and Ethan Ampadu played a good game. They deserve a chance and I am very happy because they gave me the answer I wanted.
“With this type of game, the young players are improving. To see Ampadu tonight is important. If we have patience we have young players we can work to improve them and the team to give them more opportunities.”
Highlights of Chelsea's Carabao Cup fourth-round fixture against Everton at Stamford Bridge.
Aged just 17 years and 40 days, Ampadu became the first player born in 2000 to start for Chelsea in any competition, and having been called up to the Wales senior squad earlier this month, he looks set for a bright future in the game.
Chelsea reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup for the 21st time in their history, scoring with two of their three shots on target against an Everton side which showed character in the second half.
Conte confirmed that N’Golo Kante is progressing well following his hamstring injury, with the Italian impressed by the France midfielder’s physical condition in training.
While Kante is likely to remain sidelined this weekend for the visit to face Bournemouth, Conte was pleased for Danny Drinkwater to get through 62 minutes on Wednesday night in his first appearance for the club.
He added: “We will have three games before the international break and to see him fit 100% maybe after the international break. I can count him in games now. If I decide to play with three midfielders, it’s very important.”