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."
|We have a plan - Ravens coach Harbaugh prepared for Flacco return|
|´It´s difficult to accept´ - Gracia calls for introduction of VAR|
|LaLiga press on with overseas match plan despite Barcelona withdrawal|
|PSG open Coupe de France defence at fifth-tier Pontivy|
|Hazard backs Sterling as Neville reveals England star´s Euro 2016 concerns|
|Everton 2 Watford 2: Digne salvages draw with 96th-minute free-kick|
|Barcelona could ´steal´ Kane, says Pochettino|
|Oakland Raiders fire general manager McKenzie|
|Struggling Villarreal appoint Garcia Plaza as Calleja successor|
|Warriors assign Cousins to G League team|
|Barcelona pull out of plan to play LaLiga game in Miami|
|Pochettino to keep an eye on Inter when Spurs face Barcelona|
|Pochettino confirms Walker-Peters set to start against Barcelona|
|Denver Nuggets add free agent Young|
|Topping Group A no magic wand for an easy knockout draw, says Simeone|
|The cake has been made, now we need the cherry - Ancelotti targets repeat at Anfield|
|Lloris braced to face ´one of the best in history´ in Messi|
|Tuchel expects Neymar to face Red Star|
|Foden signs Manchester City deal to 2024|
|It happened to me! - Valverde laughs off Dembele timekeeping|
|´Projecting´ an Argentina return? Messi met with AFA president and Scaloni|
|Erasmus expects to leave head coach role after World Cup|
|Chelsea issue suspensions pending investigation into Sterling incident|
|Kane is extraordinary – Valverde hails reported Barcelona target|
|Man behind Naomi Osaka´s rise wins WTA Coach of the Year|
|England name unchanged Test squad as Willey returns for West Indies ODIs|
|Spalletti: No issue with Icardi watching Superclasico in Madrid|
|Klopp confirms 2013 talks with ´chatty´ Napoli president De Laurentiis|
|Sri Lanka spinner Dananjaya suspended due to illegal action|
|His reaction was just brilliant – Klopp praises Sterling for response to abuse|
|Gomez renewal a ´smart decision´ for both parties – Klopp|
|Magnificent Molinari named European Golfer of the Year|
|Barcelona best option for Frenkie de Jong, insists midfielder´s father|
|Gronkowski on Miami Miracle: ´Got to make that tackle´|
|Tottenham youngster Walker-Peters signs on until 2023|
|Juventus ´more of a family´ than Real Madrid - Ronaldo|
|Kingsley Coman contemplates retirement if injury nightmare continues|
|McVay ´sick´ over offensive failings as Rams coach takes blame for loss|
|Calleja axed as Villarreal coach|
|Kenyan Drake on Miami Miracle: I couldn´t let Gronk tackle me!|
|Ronaldo: I deserved Ballon d´Or, the numbers don´t lie|
|Rugby Australia to make Cheika decision this month|
|England defender Gomez signs new Liverpool deal|
|Ronaldo wants to see Messi follow him to Italy|
|Neymar happy to play in any position for PSG - Draxler|
|Paine insists he is ´fine´ after taking blow to finger|
|Ponzio: River players will be ´idolised´ for Libertadores success|
|Champions League permutations: How Inter, PSG and Liverpool can progress|
|Kohli: India were better and deserved to win|
|Bears shut down Goff, Rams|
|India survive dramatic finish against Australia|
|Klopp calls for electric Anfield atmosphere against Napoli|
|Saints clinch back-to-back NFC South titles, Bears trump Rams|
|Bucks improve to 2-0 against Raptors with win in Toronto|
|Black Caps include Patel for Sri Lanka Tests|
|Maidana: River want Real Madrid clash|
|Cowboys top Eagles in OT behind stellar Cooper display|
|AC Milan evaluating Fabregas signing – Leonardo|
|WATCH: Steelers´ chance at game-tying field goal slips away|
|Hayne will plead not guilty to charges, says lawyer|
|Boca boss Schelotto: The only thing I feel is sadness|
|Cardinals´ Fitzgerald makes NFL history with most receptions for one team|
|River Plate´s Copa Libertadores star Gonzalo Martinez confirms January departure|
|Klopp: I was never worried about Salah´s form|
|Packers QB Rodgers sets NFL record for most passes without an interception|
|World Cup bulking hampered Man United form – Lukaku|
|Leonardo rules out Ibrahimovic Milan return|
|Warriors´ Green to return against Timberwolves|
|I feel for him… we´ll make it work – Butler responds to Embiid´s frustration|
|Torino draw no missed opportunity for misfiring AC Milan, claims Gattuso|