Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted his frustration at the number of squad options available to him after being forced to field new signing Ross Barkley against Arsenal on Wednesday night.
The former Everton midfielder has only recently recovered from a long-term injury, but replaced the injured Willian in the Carabao Cup semi-final, in which the Blues lost 2-1. It was his first appearance for the Blues, and the first team he had featured in a competitive game for eight months following a series of injury issues.
"When there is an injury to one of your best players it is not simple, especially when on the bench the only substitute is Ross Barkley."— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 24, 2018
Antonio Conte has been discussing Ross Barkley's performance against Arsenal ➡️ https://t.co/MaXtXtmtS5 pic.twitter.com/Q74x9hfnvi
Speaking in the wake of the defeat, via BBC Sport, Conte conceded that the lack of options available on the Chelsea bench hampered his side, claiming: "When there is an injury to one of your best players (Willian) it is not simple, especially when on the bench the only substitute is Ross Barkley.
"Barkley has a lot of space for improvement, he is working with us only two weeks but for sure today I was forced to make this substitution, but he can improve a lot. I don't need anything, I'm a coach and I continue with my players."
Despite taking an early lead via Eden Hazard's neat finish, the Blues conceded soon after via Antonio Rüdiger's own-goal. The Blues struggled to keep up with the pace of the game in the second half - as they began to show the effects of their gruelling, match-packed campaign. Granit Xhaka sealed the win for the Gunners, setting up a cup final against Manchester City.
Conte is believed to be increasingly frustrated with his lack of control over transfer dealings at Chelsea - with the board appearing to be calling the shots over the comings and goings at Stamford Bridge. Having loaned out a host of young talent during the summer transfer window, the former Juventus manager has been left with the slimmest of pickings beyond the starting XI.
The Blues are widely believed to be hot on the trail of Roma pair Emerson Palmieri and Edin Džeko, however, the Serie A side's sporting director Monchi has claimed that the deal is a long way off for the later - with the Blues failing to stump up the necessary fee to prise the former Manchester City super-sub away from the Italian capital.