Antonio Conte believes Michy Batshuayi is "ready to start" more regularly for Chelsea after the striker helped his side to a 2-1 victory over Everton in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Goals from Antonio Rudiger and Willian made the difference for the Blues on Wednesday, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin's late strike a mere consolation for the visitors to Stamford Bridge.
Batshuayi was unable to get his name on the scoresheet but he did impress his manager.
"I think Michy is improving a lot," Conte said. "He's working very well and he's understanding this football and what I want from him. He's improving, he's improving a lot.
"I'm very happy. Tonight he didn't score, but he played very well. I don't judge if my striker scores or doesn't score; I judge the player's performance for the team.
"Last season was very difficult for him, but it was also difficult for me. Now I think he's ready to start, he's ready to come on during the game and have a good impact.
"Sometimes if I decide to play with two strikers, maybe I don't know. But it's important to know I can count on him."
Conte was equally delighted with the performances of some of his younger players, with Kenedy, Ethan Ampadu and Charly Musonda among those handed an opportunity against Everton.
Danny Drinkwater also made his long-awaited Chelsea debut after injury, playing 62 minutes in midfield as he continues to build up his fitness.
"I think tonight Musonda, Kenedy and Ampadu -- Ampadu don't forget is only 17 years old -- I think they played a good game," Conte added. "It's very important to trust in these players because they deserve to have this chance. And tonight I'm very happy because I had a good answer; the answer I was waiting for.
"You have to know in this way you can take some risks. If you want to develop young players you have to give [them] a chance in this tough game, not just a soft game.
"And another good news [is] to see for the first time Danny Drinkwater. We will have three games before the international break and honestly I think to see him fit 100 percent [will be] maybe after the international break.
"But now, I think I can count on my team for the game. If I decide to play with three midfielders, it's very important."
Conte also provided an update on N'Golo Kante, who has been absent since the start of the month with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea missed the France international in recent games against Crystal Palace, Roma and Watford, but Conte has declared him "ready" for action once more.
"Kante is progressing well and I'm very happy because I saw him in a good physical condition. For sure in this moment we have to find the strength to keep calm and find the right moment to put him in the team.
"Now it will be very easy to tell him 'play because I've seen you very well.' But we must pay attention because we have to find the best solution for him. But he's ready."
Chelsea travel to the Vitality Stadium to face Bournemouth on Saturday, before a clash with Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday.