Antonio Conte insists he made "a fantastic choice" when he restored Willian to Chelsea's starting line-up against Barcelona after dropping him in the Premier League.
The 29-year-old has only made 13 starts in the top flight this season, his last in the shock 4-1 defeat to Watford on February 5, and he played only 10 minutes in the 3-0 win over West Brom a week later.
The Brazil international returned to the XI for the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona on Tuesday and repaid Conte with a standout display, in which he hit the post twice before scoring the opening goal in the 1-1 draw.
Willian admitted afterwards he is not happy when he is forced to sit on the bench, but Conte became irked by the suggestion he does not play the midfielder as often as he deserves.
The Chelsea boss told a Friday news conference: "Do you think that I am stupid when I put Willy on the bench? I have to try and make the best decision for the team, no? Maybe last season we won the title, or did I forget something?
"Now he is playing because he deserves to play, but not because there is some regret from the past. If a player deserves to play and shows me during the training session that he is on top of his form, and wants to work defensively, he plays. If not, stay on the bench, stay in the stands.
"This is not only for one player, but for all my players. This is what a winning mentality is: not if one player is happy or if he is not happy if he doesn't play. It doesn't matter. I have to make the best decision for the team. He is playing now and I am very happy with my choice.
"Willian deserved to start in the previous game, and played well. I did a fantastic choice, and I want to take credit for that."
Willian is expected to be involved on Sunday when Chelsea visit Old Trafford, where they will look for a win that will take them level on points with second-place Manchester United.
The match will see Nemanja Matic face his old club for the second time since his reported £40million move last July.
The Serbia international has largely impressed under Jose Mourinho, although his form has deteriorated in the second half of the season, while Tiemoue Bakayoko – whose arrival at Chelsea prompted Matic's departure – has struggled to make a positive impact.
Conte admits he would rather Matic had not been sold to a direct rival.
"About this player I can talk only really well, because he played with us last season," he said. "I think he was one of the key players in winning the title. Now Matic, unfortunately, is playing for Manchester United. I wish for him the best. Not on Sunday, but in the future."
When asked why his move to United was allowed, Conte replied: "In the past, we have already managed this topic. I don't want to come back and speak about the past because I think it's not important, not interesting for us."
|Orioles become first pro team to wear braille jerseys|
|Klopp hails ´brilliant´ Henderson|
|PSG attack lacked aggression, says Tuchel|
|Atletico Tucuman 0 Gremio 2: Libertadores holders draw first blood in QFs|
|Thomas plays down wrist worry|
|Rakitic wants more from Barcelona hat-trick hero Messi|
|My players aren´t s*** – Pochettino defends Spurs squad|
|Cubs reliever Morrow won´t return this season|
|Tebow expected to be back in Mets organisation next season|
|Inter can compete against anyone – Icardi revels in Champions League victory|
|Tuchel: PSG loss to Liverpool not logical or correct|
|Sturridge in best shape I´ve seen – Klopp|
|Milojevic celebrates ´fantastic´ occasion after Red Star´s 26-year wait|
|Rodrigo and Simeone salute Griezmann display|
|Seahawks DE Clark on Bears QB Trubisky: He´s nothing special|
|Carroll says Wilson has been ´over-trying a little bit´|
|Judge returns to Yankees´ starting lineup|
|Napoli boss Ancelotti takes aim at Red Star time wasting|
|Favre admits young Dortmund stars struggled in Bruges|
|Otavio would trade goal for Porto victory as he bemoans Schalke draw|
|Championship Review: Pacesetters Leeds crush Preston, Villa end five-game winless run|
|Neymar world-class but not a defender - Klopp says Liverpool targeted PSG star|
|Waiters injury update: Heat guard unlikely to be ready for start of season|
|Gojowczyk eliminates returning Tsonga in Metz|
|Liverpool enjoying best start in 57 years after PSG win|
|Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0: Terim´s side make light work of Russians|
|Club Brugge 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Super sub Pulisic scores late winner|
|Schalke 1 Porto 1: Fahrmann saves one penalty, but Otavio scores another|
|Red Star Belgrade 0 Napoli 0: Points shared as Italians fail to make possession pay|
|Liverpool 3 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Firmino strikes late as Reds edge five-goal thriller|
|Monaco 1 Atletico Madrid 2: Costa and Gimenez seal comfortable win|
|Chaos reigns in Serie B as league denies suspension claim|
|India secure Asia Cup victory despite valiant Hong Kong effort|
|Messi makes "extraordinary routine", says Valverde after Barca star surpasses Ronaldo|
|Spalletti´s Inter to take heart from Tottenham turnaround|
|Casillas features in landmark 20th Champions League campaign|
|Spurs deserved more from best performance of the season - Pochettino|
|Brown absent from Steelers facility on Monday due to ´personal matter´|
|Toronto´s Bussey given eight-match biting ban|
|Barcelona 4 PSV 0: Marvellous Messi lights up Camp Nou|
|Inter 2 Tottenham 1: Icardi, Vecino complete dramatic late turnaround|
|Allegri, Chiellini defend Costa over spitting ban|
|Firmino only fit enough for bench duty|
|Kovac applauds Sanches ahead of Benfica homecoming|
|Tomlin confirms Steelers WR Brown was absent from facility on Monday|
|Mourinho tells United to follow Federer´s lead amid Young Boys pitch concerns|
|Costa banned for four Serie A matches for spitting|
|PGA Tour announces changes to FedEx Cup Playoffs format|
|Rashford to start against Young Boys, Mourinho confirms|
|Ryder Cup heading to Congressional in 2036|
|I never listen to stupid things - De Gea unconcerned by criticism|
|Aguero trains as Mendy sits out Man City session|
|Lampard fined after accepting improper conduct charge|
|Serie B suspended after Pro Vercelli win appeal|
|Mitchell returns to England as defence coach|
|Brady completes Cornet upset in Guangzhou|
|Lopetegui giving no guarantees to ´fighter´ Navas|
|Di Francesco denies racially abusing Costa|
|Saunders apologises for ´sickening´ online video|
|Tianjin Quanjian 0 Kashima Antlers 3 (0-5 agg): Semi-final spot booked in resounding fashion|
|Madrid cannot live on Ronaldo´s glories, warns Ramos|
|Real Madrid are Champions League favourites, insists Man City coach Arteta|
|Stokes & Hales charged with bringing game into disrepute|
|Stephens slips to Vekic defeat in Tokyo|
|Simeone should teach Griezmann values - Ramos questions Ballon d´Or ambition|
|Arteta ready to step into Guardiola´s shoes after missing out on Arsenal job|
|Naive or scheming - Ozil´s agent slams Kroos, Neuer and Muller|
|Bolton´s Darby forced to retire after Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis|
|Root vows dressing support for Moeen over Ashes abuse claims|
|Madrid more dangerous without Ronaldo - Dani Alves|