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Chelsea players must accept fringe role -Conte

Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte reacts during their UEFA Champions League Group C second leg match against AS Roma, at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, on October 31, 2017

LONDON, United Kingdom, Dec 2- Antonio Conte insists Chelsea’s players must accept finding themselves on the fringes after being asked about Barcelona’s rumoured interest in Willian.

Brazilian winger Willian has been in and out of the Chelsea XI this season, with 10 of his 21 appearances coming from the bench.

Speculation earlier this week suggested that the 29-year-old could be a target for Barcelona in the January transfer window, if the La Liga leaders are unable to land Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

But Conte has stressed that all Chelsea’s players need to understand why they find themselves on the bench at certain stages of the season.

Conte said: “My players must be happy to stay in Chelsea and to play for Chelsea and to play for our fans. They must be happy if they start the game, or if they stay on the bench and come on.

“I think I have clever players to understand the situation and accept it. [Eden] Hazard, at the start of the season, accepted the situation to stay on the bench before finding the right form. It’s the same for Pedro, for Willy [Caballero], for other players.

“When you are in a great team, you have to accept this and, at the same time, you must be happy to stay in a great team.”