Antonio Conte has hailed on-loan Bristol City striker Tammy Abraham as “the future for Chelsea,” and hinted that he may give more opportunities to the club’s brightest academy prospects in Wednesday’s EFL Cup fifth-round clash with West Ham.
Abraham has lit up the Championship since arriving at Bristol City in the summer, scoring 11 goals in his first 17 matches in all competitions, having impressed Conte during a brief spell with the Chelsea first-team during their preseason tour of the United States.
And Conte believes the 19-year-old striker has a bright career ahead at Stamford Bridge, though he was also keen to highlight the good work of Chelsea’s academy evident in the presence of Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ola Aina and Dominic Solanke in this season’s first-team squad.
“Abraham is another young player who is the future for Chelsea, for sure,” Conte said. “He’s very young. I saw him only one week during the preseason in America.
“Then we decided to send him to play every game and get experience, then come back for us. He has great potential in the technical and physical aspects.
“I think the academy is working very well. Also in my squad we have Chalobah, Aina, Solanke, Loftus-Cheek. You can see the future and it’s good.”
Chalobah in particular has caught the eye of Conte in recent weeks, marking his Stamford Bridge debut with an audacious assist for Victor Moses to score against Leicester City and producing an assured performance from the substitutes’ bench against (Manchester) United.
Asked if he or any of Chelsea’s other academy products could feature against West Ham, Conte replied: “It’s important to arrive at the right message — that tomorrow we want to win.
“Then, if I decide to put in the team some young players, it’s only because I trust in these players, not to make a gift to someone. It’s important to understand this.”