Chelsea vs Tottenham: Antonio Conte insists Nathan Ake is ready to start

Vaishali Bhardwaj
Substitute | Nathan Ake (left) has played just twice since returning to Chelsea in January: Getty Images

Antonio Conte is confident Nathan Ake will seize his chance to impress if he starts against Tottenham at Wembley.

Gary Cahill has been ruled out of Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final clash against Spurs after he spent two days in hospital this week with gastroenteritis.

The 31-year-old has been a mainstay in Conte's three-man defence this season, but will not be able to play against Tottenham - leaving the Chelsea manager with a tough decision about whether to start captain John Terry, Kurt Zouma or 22-year-old Ake at the back.

Conte suggested on Friday he will not play Terry due to his preference of wanting to have David Luiz in the centre of a back three, while Zouma started the 2-0 defeat away to Manchester United on Sunday.

But when asked whether Ake - who has started just two games since being brought back prematurely from his loan spell at Bournemouth in January - could play against Spurs, Conte hinted he could opt to hand the full-back a surprise inclusion at Wembley Stadium.

"Ake thinks he deserves to have this chance, to play," Conte said on Friday. "Because he is showing me in all this period, always a great commitment.

"He worked very hard. His behaviour was great, was fantastic, and he never told nothing.

"And don’t forget that Ake was playing every game with Bournemouth, and he wanted to come and to stay with us to try to work together and to help us to fight for the title.

"I think he’s a good player, I think he’s ready to have this opportunity, to have this chance, he deserves this opportunity and I trust him. I have no problem to take this decision."

When then questioned about who will lead the team out at Wembley as Chelsea captain, Conte said: "We have this problem. There is only one captain in Chelsea now and it is JT, if he plays or doesn’t play.

"And another person puts on the armband, but the captain I repeat is John. For sure tomorrow we have to find a new captain, and this is another problem that I have to solve."