Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has followed up Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola’s criticism of the Carabao Cup, claiming the competition is not important to him this season.
The Premier League champions have had to deal with a series of injuries to key players in recent, and Conte is set field a highly inexperienced side when the Blues host Everton in the fourth round on Wednesday.
Charly Musonda and Kenedy are in line to start again against the Toffees having performed well in the last round against Nottingham Forest, and the former Juventus boss admits that he agrees with his fellow managers that the competition can hinder progress in others.
"I think for the game against Everton, it is impossible to recover for [Danny] Drinkwater. [Victor] Moses needs more time and so does [N'Golo] Kante," Conte told reporters.
"But I think this could be a good opportunity to give a chance to the young player like Charly Musonda, also Kenedy, young players who I think deserve the chance.
"They are working very hard, they are improving and we can see the improvement against Everton which is a tough game. It is important for me, important for the club. We will do this.
"Now, if I have to see in a selfish way, I can tell you I agree [that the Carabao Cup isn't important].
"But, we have to try and find the best solution and I try to protect the teams who are playing in Europe. It is not simple.
"On the other hand, this type of game is important as it gives you the chance to see the improvement of the players who have not been playing. I don’t know. It is very difficult to say something about this."
Conte's future has been the subject of much speculation after he expressed concerns over transfers in the summer and the team struggling for consisitency on the pitch.
A number of sides in Italy have been linked with the coach amid rumours he will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the current season.
But the 48-year-old has previously denied reports he is looking to leave and is confident that his job is not under threat despite some indifferent results so far this season.
"I am not like the previous managers. I am different. It is important to understand this. The club has to judge the work and honestly, I don’t have this type of worry.
"If I lose the game, if the club decides to sack me. Only because in the past, the club decided after two losses or three bad games to sack a manager.
"I don’t think it is the same for every manager. You change the person, change the work. If you ask if I feel this type of pressure about the club, it is zero.
"Honestly. I am not worried. I am very honest. Who knows me very well. Anyone who knows me well knows this is the last thought in my mind.
"It is my last worry. I trust in my work. I give all of myself into my work and with my players. I don’t feel this type of pressure.
"I feel the pressure to give a certain satisfaction to my players, to give satisfaction to my fans and to give satisfaction to the club. I ask a lot of myself. This is the type of pressure.
"But as for the other pressure I do not feel. In this moment it is important for the coach to stay focused on the pitch, to stay with your head on the pitch and to understand the right way to help your team. It is not simple. When you see your team is suffering it is not simple.
"But you must be cold to try and find the right way to help your team. I think my relationship with the fans is incredible. It is incredible. They always support me from my first game against West Ham and they prepared a big Italian flag in the stand.
"I think the feeling with the fans is incredible and I feel this type of pressure to repay this feeling. They call my name and I feel this type of pressure. Me and my players want to give the fans’ satisfaction."