Antonio Conte has revealed that he has no regrets about leaving Willian out of the Chelsea side.
The Brazilian has been used sparingly since the Italian took over the Blues in 2016, starting just 28 of Chelsea’s 65 Premier League games during Conte’s stewardship.
He has recently been restored to the starting XI, where the 29-year-old has repaid his manager faith in him, by scoring four goals in his last six appearances, including the stunner against Barcelona on midweek.
However, when asked if he regretted using the winger as sparingly as he has, Conte used the fact that he led the club to the title last season to defend his decisions.
He said: “Do you think that I am stupid? When I put Willian on the bench? I have to try and make the best decision for the team, no? Maybe last season we won the title, or did I forget something?
“Now he is playing because he deserves to play. But not because there is some regret from the past. For what?
“If a player deserves to play, and shows me during the training session that he is on top of his form, and wants to work defensively, he plays. If not, stay on the bench, stay in the stands.
“But this is not only for one player, but for all my players. This is what a winning mentality is. Not if one player is happy or if he is not happy if he doesn’t play. It doesn’t matter.
“I have to make the best decision for the team. He is playing now and I am very happy with my choice. Willian deserved to start in the previous game and played well. I did a fantastic choice, and I want to take credit for that.”
Chelsea’s next game is a crucial clash against former Blues boss Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United side at Old Trafford.