Injury headaches piling up for Chelsea

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti faces a tough trip to Birmingham’s St Andrew’s Stadium on Saturday with injury problems weighing heavily on his mind.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 19 Nov 2010, 11:47 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:33 AM

If Ancelotti thought things couldn’t get any worse after the Premier League leaders’ surprise defeat by Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, he was wrong.

Since that 3-0 loss, Chelsea’s first at home since March, Ancelotti has been told the champions’ captain, John Terry, could be out for months with an undiagnosed nerve problem.

Meanwhile Terry’s fellow central defender Alex has a knee problem that requires surgery and at least six weeks’ rest.

At least Italian manager Ancelotti has no further casualties from the midweek international fixtures, although Brazil did name Alex as one of their substitutes for their match against Argentina in Doha.

Terry will see an Italian specialist about his nerve problem, which he says has affected him since the end of last season.

“I am at my wits’ end,” Terry said. “I know I won’t be fit for the Birmingham game, but beyond that there are no clues. It could be weeks, it could be months.”

Ancelotti has just Branislav Ivanovic and Paulo Ferreira available to play in central defence against Birmingham, leaving aside his reserve and youth team men.

Adding to his defensive problems is the continuing worry over Chelsea’s midfield players, with Frank Lampard requiring another three weeks’ treatment on an injury suffered in training and Michael Essien suspended for two more games after he was sent off against Fulham.

Ancelotti added star striker Didier Drogba is still not back to full fitness after recovering from a bout of malaria.

“He has to train and we need to take time to get him in the best condition,” Ancelotti said of Drogba.

“He works hard for the team, but he gets tired because he hasn’t trained 100 percent during the period of his illness.

“Now the illness is gone he can train and he will be fit quickly. His illness was a problem, but he will be better.”

Birmingham, who sit in the relegation zone having drawn seven of their first 13 games, have lost just once at home in the league in the past 14 months.

Prior to last month’s reverse against Everton, their previous defeat at St Andrew’s came in September 2009, when Bolton Wanderers beat them 2-1.

And manager Alex McLeish believes his side can follow Liverpool and Sunderland by inflicting a third straight weekend defeat on Chelsea.

“I don’t think we will pip Chelsea for the league but can we win a home game against Chelsea? That’s achievable,” McLeish said.

“I’m not saying we will, I am saying we can and it is achievable. We have to believe we can do it.”

Birmingham have not beaten Chelsea in over 30 years, since March 1980, when both teams were in the second tier of English football.

But McLeish is optimistic that they can at least show the Londoners they are worthy opponents, adding: “I’m not going to shout from the rooftops and give Chelsea any motivation whatsoever.

“I’ve just got to say to my players and our fans that we’ve got to ensure Chelsea are going back down south saying: ‘What a game that was, what a game they gave us’,” the former Scotland centre-half explained.

“Whether that means we can win it or get something from it, whatever, we’ll be going for it.”

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