Jose Mourinho’s emerging players may have to wait for a chance to shine as Chelsea look to secure first place in their Champions League group with a win against Levski Sofia.
Levski arrive at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday without a point in the group but the Premiership champions need a win to ensure top spot and a favourable place in the draw for the knockout stages.
Either Werder Bremen or Barcelona will join them in the next round depending on the result of their clash.
The German side put themselves in the box seat for qualification following their victory over Chelsea last time out, a match Mourinho for which selected a strong side in the hope of securing first place with a match to spare.
“In the last game against Levski I would like to give chances to some of the young boys to play a Champions League game,” he said prior to the defeat in Bremen.
“I would love it to be a game without influence in the group – the game against Bremen can influence the future of the Champions League.”
Mourinho also selected a strong team for the Carling Cup tie against Aston Villa and appears to be treating each match with great importance this season, rather than blooding youngsters away from Premiership competition.
Against Levski he will have John Terry suspended and Ashley Cole is a yellow card away from suspension, complicating his selection process further. It means young players such as Mikel John Obi, who played against Bremen, and Lassana Diarra may not be risked.
Diarra has been earmarked as Claude Makelele’s eventual successor in the holding-midfielder role, and the French youngster is willing to wait for his chance.
As one of the younger members of the squad this season, Diarra said: “I was very happy to be involved, I’ve been here to learn, I’m getting a lot of experience from training with the squad and feel confident to play.
“You always improve with the squad we have here but you improve more while you play.
“I’m working hard and I’ll wait to see what will happen in the future.”
He added: “If I play here I will have a good chance to be in the national squad.
“The manager told me if I don’t play it is normal not to play for my country. But if I play a little bit more, for three months, I think I can get in the squad.
“So now it’s important for me. Every day I learn. But now, if I progress more, I know there is no better than me, so every week I want to play, play, play.”