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Mauricio Pochettino praised the performances of the players who made their full Chelsea debut in the narrow Carabao Cup win over AFC Wimbledon but did not succumb to reports that the club are close to signing Cole Palmer from Manchester City.

It took Enzo Fernandez’s first Chelsea goal in the second half to finally overwhelm the League Two side and secure a 2-1 victory after Noni Madueke’s penalty equalizer just before half-time .

Earlier, James Tilley’s penalty gave Johnnie Jackson’s team a surprising lead after goalkeeper Robert Sanchez ran from his goal and collided with Harry Pell.

The young trio of Mason Burstow, Ian Maatsen and Diego Moreira all started in an unfamiliar Chelsea line-up for the first time, but it was the introduction of Nicolas Jackson and Fernandez that allowed the hosts to decide the tie, with a noticeable difference in the squad Nature of their threat when the two came on in the second half.

Jackson provided the incisive run between the lines that had been lacking in the first half, while it was the first goal in blue for world champion Fernandez that finally scuppered Wimbledon’s resolve with 18 minutes remaining.

Madueke, Chelsea’s best player in the first period before Pochettino went on to the bench, equalized from 12 meters out after being brought down in the penalty area by defender Alex Pearce.

Pochettino was subsequently asked about Palmer’s imminent arrival. Chelsea and City had reportedly agreed a £40m transfer fee for the striker. However, he declined to comment, preferring instead to praise his side’s progress to the third round.

“I don’t know anything at the moment,” he said. “I can’t talk about players who don’t belong with us. What I can say about that is nothing at the moment. The club didn’t tell me. I don’t want to talk about a player who hasn’t signed yet.

“Maybe yes, maybe no (there will be more transfer business). Maybe you know better than me what’s going on.”

On the performance against the Dons, he added: “It was tough. That’s the nice thing about the competition, about the trophies. I think given the circumstances we currently have in the squad, a lot of players involved today, I’m happy with the performance. Many players have made their debut here and it’s tough the first time.

“A lot of positive things. Of course we have a squad and players who were rested and on the bench in case we needed it. They came into the game fresh and of course helped the team achieve what we wanted.

“That’s the beauty of the competition for every club. When you’re a Premier League club, it’s always difficult to play against a team like this, which belongs to this level in the second division.” Always the motivation and the desire. It wasn’t a punishment for me, but that’s the beauty of competition, things like that can happen.”

The manager added that Marc Cucurella, who played 90 minutes at left-back despite reports the club is negotiating a sale to Manchester United, is sticking with his plans until the club tells him otherwise.

“I don’t know anything (about cucurella). All the players who are with us at the training ground every day are included in our planning. Then things happen, it’s the decision of both the club and the player and if anything happens in the next few days we will let you know.”

AFC Wimbledon boss Jackson looked back on his side’s brave performance and was proud that he had forced Pochettino to sit on his intricately assembled bench to claim victory.

“So proud of my players,” Jackson said. “We pushed them to the end and gave them a decent game. We’ve been saying all week that we’re not just coming for a day trip, we want to go head-to-head with them. We’re a bit disappointed that we didn’t push them to penalties but I have to be proud of everyone.

“We knew they were on the bench and to be honest I think their manager was hoping he didn’t have to use them. So I think it’s a testament to my team that we put them in a position in the game that they had to work on.” Those changes brought two hundred million pound players (Fernandez and Moises Caicedo) onto the pitch.”

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